Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and their habitats
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I was saddened to hear that Joyce Gay has recently passed away. There will be a service for Joyce at Guildford Crematorium on Thursday, 24 July at 11.15am. Joyce was Branch Recorder for a great many years, from the now distant 1980s until 2004. She and surviving husband Peter both made huge contributions to Butterfly Conservation in Sussex and will always be associated with the ‘Atlas of Sussex Butterflies’ published in 1996. I didn’t know Joyce well, but was hugely impressed by the thorough and energetic way in which she furthered our knowledge of butterfly distribution. My sympathies go to Joyces family and I for one will make a point of recording butterflies on Thursday morning, taking a moment to remember her at 11.15am. (Neil Hulme)


I was saddened to learn of the death of Joyce: she was the Branch Recorder when I joined the Sussex Branch on my return to East sussex in 1989.
She was extremely active in cajoeling folk into submitting their records for the first Sussex Branch Atlas. Joyce also entered all the data into the computer herself, a no mean feat in those days, and you could expect a telephone call if she spotted an out of the ordinary record.
From her work along with her husband, Peter, they laid the basis for others to take up on the conservation front as to why the butterflies were disappearing as such a rate. (Roy Neeve, Ex Branch Chairman)


I am sorry to hear about the death of Joyce Gay. She phoned me up out of the blue quite some years ago and asked me (well, it seemed more of a command really, but nicely put) to lead a walk round Whitebeam Wood in Durrington, the target being possible White-letter Hairstreaks on regenerating elms. I'd recently reported seeing some from the north side of Hove Town Hall, so I guess she thought I'd be able to recognise them. On the day there were about a dozen people turned up - some had come from Hampshire I think. Unfortunately the weather was rather cloudy and all we saw was one Large Skipper. Not much for me to report back, although I did give some suggestions to one of the Friends of the wood as to how they might make the nearby playing field and the wood more butterfly friendly. The local Council's website says the Friends are still going strong, so I'll try and pop back some day this summer to see if I can make amends to Joyce with a more useful report to her successors. (John Heys)

I first met Joyce and Peter Gay at a very friendly, welcoming indoor meeting of Sussex BC more than 14 years ago. Their great knowledge and help started me off on the path of appreciating, learning and recording butterflies, especially in the north-west part of West Sussex. Joyce was always full of enthusiasm and interest in latest sightings and butterfly news. Her contribution to our Branch has been considerable and we owe her much gratitude. (Margaret Hibbard)


Thursday 31 July 2014

This afternoon I did a circuit of the Knepp Castle Estate Wildland Southern Block, with the specific aim of saying goodbye to the Purple Emperor for another year. My tally of 5 (4m, 1f) would be considered a good mid season count on most sites, but for Knepp these numbers spell the very end of the Emperors flight season. More at http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=1760#p89016. (Neil Hulme)

On Thursday afternoon I walked north of Falmer starting on the Boundary Footpath. Along the road between Moon's Corner and St Mary's Farm saw Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Large Whites, Comma (1), Small Tortoiseshell (1), also on the bridleway continuing to the south end of Horseshoe Plantation. The highlight, on the bridleway between the north end of Horseshoe Plantation and Streathill Farm (TQ351124), was at least a dozen Walls. (Yvonne Dedman)

An unplanned day at home due to unexpected early morning issues with the car was much improved by a short stint of garden butterflying. Ignoring the laptop screen and taking a seat in the garden it was a pleasure to see how much wildlife was attracted to our tiny patch of paradise. The buddleia bush was the main attraction as to be expected, with Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown all pottering around on the purple blooms. A Small White preferred the lavender, whilst more commas went 'bananas' over some left-over rotten fruit. The biggest surprise was a female Common Blue, who flittered around the garden, mostly paying attention to our small slither of lawn, which includes a significant percentage of trefoil. She did seem to be egg-laying what are the chances of success? (Sophie-May Lewis, Midhurst)

Went for a long walk up the Warningore Bostall to the top of Blackcap and down through Ashcombe Bottom and recorded 21 species in one afternoon. There is the potential to see about 29 species at this time of year at that site! It is superb mix of chalk downland and woodland. What I saw today:
Small Skipper,
Essex Skipper,
Silver-spotted Skipper,
Small White,
Green-veined White,
Brimstone,
Clouded Yellow,
Small Copper,
Brown Argus,
Common Blue,
Chalkhill Blue,
Silver-washed Fritillary,
Red Admiral,
Small Tortoiseshell,
Peacock,
Painted Lady,
Speckled Wood,
Wall Brown,
Marbled White,
Small Heath,
Ringlet.
This time last year there was also; Dingy Skipper, Purple Hairstreak, Adonis Blue, Small Blue, Holly Blue, White Admiral, Dark-green Fritillary and Comma. But I didn't see any of those today. I guess one could also see a second generation Grizzled Skipper too! Or a late Large Skipper and Ashcombe Bottom has the potential for Purple Emperor, but I think it is too late for them now. Not sure I know of many sites where such a range of species can be seen on the same day! (Crispin Holloway)

It was my best ever butterfly day in my Edburton garden today. It started early with my first confirmed sighting of Brown Hairstreak with two flying around and resting in a tall Ash tree. This long-awaited species is my 33rd for the garden. The wildflower garden was a big attraction with 2 Clouded Yellows, 1  2 worn Dark Green Fritillaries, Chalkhill Blue, Brown Argus, 2 Marbled Whites, Small Copper as well as plenty of Common Blues and Small/Essex Skippers. On the buddleias there was a Silver-washed Fritillary, Holly Blue, about 10 each of Peacock, Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell and a few Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. Two Commas were on the rotting fruit which I put out for moths. Elsewhere around the garden there was a late Large Skipper (which I couldnt turn into a Silver-spotted), 2 or 3 Walls, a Speckled Wood and all three whites. Altogether, 23 species! (Tony Wilson)

Wolstonbury Hill today: At 11.15 hr I set off from New Way Lane and spent three hours on the hill. A Clouded Yellow shot past on the north slope and two hours later on the eastern slope I saw one again; unmistakable colour and black wing edges; no picture though. There were lots of Small Tortoiseshells, Common Blues, a few Marbled Whites and Skippers (an Essex Skipper). (Peter Lovett)

News for Tuesday 29 July: I spent the entire day looking at established, recently discovered and potential Silver-spotted Skipper sites in West Sussex, with very pleasing results. The population at Cissbury Ring has built remarkably quickly and I was delighted to count 53 here in what is probably only Year Two, following the first visit of one or more wandering females. It has already outstripped the presumed donor site, Chantry Hill, where I counted 48 later in the day. I found a further 3 at Washington Chalk Pits, and 2 at Long Furlong near Findon. Colin Pratt assures me that these are the first records for Long Furlong since 1939. More at http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=1760#p89025. (Neil Hulme)

From your sightings post regarding the aberrant Gatekeeper, we have this form in the Hutchinsons Bank gene pool, it has occurred at least 3 times in the last 21 years in both males and females. http://spock-butterflies.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/gatekeeper-rare-form-returns.html. (Martin Wills)


Wednesday 30 July 2014

This afternoon I visited Cissbury Ring and saw seven Silver-spotted Skippers after Neil Hulme had alerted me that the small colony he found there last year had grown considerably. Location is the meadow at TQ135076. I also saw a Clouded Yellow twice, once on the way up from the car park and once in the SSS meadow. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Silver-spotted Skippers are at their peak now! Get out and find them now! There are several sites in the county where the butterfly has not been recorded since 2009 and they are surly at all or most of those sites. If we can record them at all of these sites, this year, then they will be included in the Sussex Butterfly Atlas.
So, I and Dan Danahar decided to visit one of these sites, North Bottom and Drencher Bottom just SW of Ditchling Beacon and we found them  lots of them! This is a very good site that neither I or Dan had fully explored this area before and we were very impressed.
The fist Silver-spotted Skippers were at North Bottom TQ325118 allong with Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Small White, Clouded Yellow, Chalhill Blue, Common Blue, Peacock, Marbled White, Meadow Brown and a possible Silver-washed Fritillary (Dan knows they are breed near by  so very likely). A little way further on we found pristine fresh Adonis Blue, Brown Argus, Small Copper, many Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Small Heath all the way from North Bottom round to Drencher Bottom with more Clouded Yellows and a Painted Lady. There were generally fewer butterflies, especially Silver-spotted Skipper in the longer areas of Drencher Bottom TQ317125  but still a very good site.
On our way back between North Bottom and Highpark Corner (TQ326117) Dan saw what was possibly the littlest Small Blue I have ever seen!
Now is the time to get out to record Silver-spotted Skippers. There have already been a few new colonies found this year. It would be great to find them at all the sites where they have not been recorded since 2009 (when all suitable habitat was inspected by a team From Exeter University  which included myself). It is possible that populations at some of these pre 2010 sites may be low or simply that no one has looked recently! I'm going to try to visit some but probably wont be able to do them all.
Here is a list of sites to see if you can find any Silver-spotted Skippers not recorded since 2009:
TV5796 Long Down, Beachy Head.
TV571961 Prost Hill Beachy Head.
TQ565029 Ash Farm, Filching Quarry off Jevington Road.
TQ510028 Alfriston, France Bottom.
TQ488031 Blackstone Bottom.
TQ498048 Alciston Bostal Hill.
TQ512037 Winton Chalk pit area.
TQ493050 Bo-Peep Carpark area.
TQ488062 Firle, Round Hill.
TQ470061 Firle Plantation West.
TQ477061 Firle Plantation East.
TQ471038 Heighton Hill.
TQ474040 Heighton Hill.
TQ285113 Pycombe, East Hill, Pagdean farm.
TQ289108 Pagdean Casterbridge farm.
TQ342078 East Moulsecoomb, near top of Ashurst Road.
TQ284140 Wolstonbury Hill, North side.
TQ256112 Poynings, Fulking, Wickhurst Barns.
TQ242111 Fulking.
Also worth checking Beeding Hill area TQ2009.
(Crispin Holloway and Dan Danahar)

It's all action at our garden in Hove. A couple of years ago I managed to get to a Sussex Butterfly meeting and bought a tiny bird's-foot trefoil plant. It's got a lot bigger and we've got quite a lot of scabious and longer grass near it in a sheltered spot just behind the garage. In the park behind us they've recently created some humps with wild flowers, an area where the grass has been allowed to grow and a communal vegetable garden. So I suppose it's no coincidence that after our best ever species count in the garden on 26 July (5, probably 6) we've gone one better. On 29 July I saw a small darkish butterfly near the bird's-foot trefoil. We rarely have Common Blues in the garden so it was a very nice surprise to find a brown female Common Blue laying eggs. I also saw a fragile looking moth near the nettles at the bottom of the garden which I think is a Mother of Pearl. The 30th July was the record breaker of 7 different butterflies in a day. A slow-moving Green-veined White (almost certainly) was quickly followed by another female Common Blue and definitely not yesterday's revisiting, as it was not the all brown version. Occasional Small Whites moved quickly through, then a male Speckled Wood appeared under the apple tree. Val came out just in time to see a Gatekeeper  quite unusual for our garden. It had a brief look around and moved on. A few minutes later another orange-ish butterfly turned up and it didn't look quite like the Gatekeeper so I followed closely. It was a Wall butterfly and settled just long enough for me to get a rather poor picture. That's definitely the first Wall we've seen in our garden (is a first in our tetrad too?). Val came out just in time to see it disappear next door. The day was capped off with 2 Holly Blues and a Yellow Shell moth. Ten different butterfly types in 5 days and none of them Vanessids  must get a buddleia. (John & Val Heys)

This morning fellow B.C. member, Trevor Rapley, and I visited Beckley Woods in the hope of seeing Clouded Yellows, Peacocks and Silver-washed Fritillaries. No Clouded Yellows were sighted, however we saw numerous Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Silver-washed Fritillaries. Twelve other species were sighted including a White Admiral, Wall Brown, Brimstone, Brown Argus, Large White, Ringlet, Small Whites, Commas, Common Blues, Green-veined Whites, Red Admirals, Meadow Browns and a possible Purple Hairstreak. We also observed a spider with a trapped Ringlet. (Douglas Neve)

News for Sunday 27 July: There are still quite a few Large Skippers about  they are late. Easily confused for Silver-spotted Skippers. I was surprised to see two in John Holloway's garden both in good condition considering their probable age. Along with the Large Skippers, there were also several Small Skippers, some looking very tatty and some in almost pristine condition. There were at least 8 Peacocks, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, a Painted Lady, Small & Large White, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and Six-spot Burnet.
And, News for Tuesday 29 July: On my transect at Malling Down, I recorded 199 Silver-spotted Skippers. That is a record, never have I recorded so many on just one transect. There was also Small and Essex Skippers, 6 Clouded Yellow (one laying eggs), Small White (not many this year), Small Copper (numbers lower than I would normally expect), Brown Argus, Common Blue, Chalkhil Blue (best year at Malling), the first second generation Adonis Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Painted Lady, a Dark Green Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Gatekeeper, vast numbers of Meadow Brown, a few Small Heath and a Ringlet.
Considering the weather and recent migrants I'm surprised not to have seen any Hummingbird Hawks since about May  I wonder why? (Crispin Holloway)

News for Monday 28 July: Yesterday I had intended to check Homefield Park in Worthing for butterflies, but as you can see from the picture it had become a huge lake, so I popped over to Whitbeam Wood in Durrington to see how it had progressed since Joyce Gay asked me to go there maybe 15 years ago. The wood is not very extensive  mostly linear between modern houses, but has some magnificently huge oaks and I did come across some elm suckers. It's not got much in the way of clearings or areas with light. The adjoining Langcroft Park is much more promising for butterfly sightings and the management has changed so that there are more areas left with rough grass and wild flowers. Unfortunately the sun went in just before I arrived, but I was still able to find 3 Common Blues (at two different locations in the park) a speckled wood and a couple of Gatekeepers. (John Heys)

Silver-washed Fritillary, first ever sighting. Within 2 minutes a White Admiral, quite worn, first sighting in this garden. Also today Peacocks, Commas, Small Tortoiseshells, Small Copper, Small White, Large White, Gatekeepers. Earlier this week Common Blue, Ringlet, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, a Skipper. As well as Marjoram, Buddleja and Verbena, the new attraction appears to be Allium Summer Beauty. All in a garden in Danehill, planted for butterflies, it seems to be working!
It was very exciting to see a White Admiral as well, have only seen one once before on a BC walk at Sheffield Park. (Frances Parrish)

As pointed out by Martin Kalahar there is nothing better than having our beloved butterflies visit the garden and indeed I also have quite a surprising list of species. There was an awesome storm on Monday with hail the size of peas and the next day I observed a beautiful large Painted Lady just outside the Garden, delightfully sat amongst the complexity of Wheat ears. For the past few days I have had male Brimstones visiting the garden. Around 4.30 today my first female Brimstone arrived nectaring mainly on Common Fleabane. Then a male arrived and he was mainly interested on nectaring on Runner bean Flowers and the odd thistle flower. At 17.00 the female went to roost under a Dock leaf and shortly afterwards the male dived in to a hedgerow. The chance of a nuptial meeting had vanished despite them being only 20 feet apart. Their lovely appearance was preceded by a Meadow Brown egg-laying outside the back door on the worst patch of grass you can imagine. Indeed she even laid an egg on the soil under the dead grass directly left by my Robinson Moth trap and an enterprising field Vole who had also mowed it bare. So a dilemma "To mow or not to mow?" that is the question.
In the early evening a male Comma has once again set up station in a particular spot in the garden which is sheltered and catches the evening sun. A Comma has been present for weeks every evening and generally tussles with anything that flies by, i.e. Essex Skippers, Gatekeepers, Holly Blue and the occasional White. The usual Nymphalids continue to pass through the garden at great speed more or less continuously during the day. Other stranger occurrences this week. Last Saturday I pulled out my barbecue from under the oil tank for the first time. It's one of those on a stand with a lid and a hole at the base and it was lying down with the lid shut. When I opened it a Peacock flew out and then I noticed a second Peacock sat calmly inside. Now the barbecue was pretty much tucked away, so why they were in there is open to conjecture. On Tuesday I found a large Buff-tailed Bumblebee crawling around on the short grass outside the back door. It had lost its right forewing and could not fly. I picked it up and sort of tossed it in to the nearest thick border where there were some flowers. Half an hr. later it returned crawling around in the same place. So I duly returned it to the same border. Blow me if it didn't return again. This time I watched what is was doing. It was crawling around systematically visiting every single minute Clover Flower over an area about 4.0 m square - so I let it be. The next day I found the bee again doing exactly the same thing. My father is a Bee keeper and I asked him what's going on. After new bees have emerged they tend the nest and the growing larvae. In the later stages they go out foraging for nectar and pollen and they are basically programmed with the last thing they did. So I would like to think that just perhaps this industrious bee managed to walk back to its nest with its hard gained stash of goodies. Who knows it could still be on its altruistic mission now, on foot and why not? (Richard Roebuck)

An afternoon circular trip over Mill Hill produced 18 different species of butterfly, including a restless 69 male Chalkhill Blues, the first of the second brood Adonis Blues (2), at least three immigrant Clouded Yellows, a few vanessids visiting Hemp Agrimony, ubiquitous Meadow Browns, very frequent Gatekeepers, six Wall Browns, occasional Marbled Whites and other resident species expected on chalk downs in summer.
A single Hemp Agrimony bush on the southern steps to the lower slopes hosted 3+ Red Admirals, 3+ Small Tortoiseshells, 2+ Peacocks, 2+ Green-veined Whites, 2+ Meadow Browns and 2+ Gatekeepers all at the same time. (Andy Horton, Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List)


Tuesday 29 July 2014

Saw my first Brimstone of the summer, at Park Corner Heath today. (David Bradford)

My first visit to Cissbury Ring on a warm clear but breezy day produced:- 6 Clouded Yellows, 50+ Chalkhill Blues, 15 Common Blues, 10 Brimstone, numerous Brown Argus, 1 Small Copper, hundreds of Gatekeepers, Small Skippers, Meadow Browns, Ringlets and a few Large Skippers, 2 Speckled Woods a dozen or more Marbled Whites, 1 Painted Lady, 2 Dark Green Fritillaries, 3 Peacock, 8 Wall, 20+ Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Red Admiral, 20+ Large Whites. Unfortunately I didn't see any Silver-spotted Skippers, but a great way to spend a few hours and admire our great countryside. (Howard Wood)

Today in my Hollingbury back garden I saw 3 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Red Admiral and 1 Peacock. Me and my family also went to see our family friends, who this year moved to Rustington. I did print out the two atlas pages for the area as guidance. Sadly for tetrad (TQ0402) I only managed to cover sections C and D. As for the beach tetrad (TQ0400), I was disappointingly unable to record due to time restrictions. The results for tetrad (TQ0402) are as follows, Section C - 3 Large White, 1 Small White, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Holly Blue all within (TQ04590259). Also 1 Small White at (TQ04570263) and another 1 Small White at (TQ04660261). At Brickfields Recreation Ground I saw the following, 1 Small White (TQ04640267), 1 Holly Blue (TQ04600269), 1 Gatekeeper (TQ04590269), 1 Holly Blue (TQ04510284), 3 Gatekeeper (TQ04590273), 1 Meadow Brown (TQ04530273), 1 Small Tortoiseshell (TQ04580269), 2 Small White (TQ04580269)and 1 Speckled Wood (TQ04590269). In section D of tetrad (TQ0402) I only managed to see a single Small White to the side of the roundabout before going onto Worthing Road, seen at (TQ05560286). (Jamie Burston)

A quick follow up to the Oak Eggar caterpillars that my friend Adam found outside Bellman's auctioneers. A few weeks after the initial discovery of several caterpillars in the hedge I was shown by my friend a fully mature Oak Eggar caterpillar just spinning the beginnings of a cocoon in the sunken gap next to the hinge in the main door of the building. Silly place we thought, it'll get squashed there. So I carefully teased it off and placed it back in the hedge some 30 feet away. The following week this cocoon was found by the ever vigilant Adam. This time in the other door hinge. I took it home for safety and this week hatched. I released her straight back into the hedge she grew up in.
Only the other day I was commenting to my mother that I had only ever witnessed a young Puss Moth caterpillar back in the sixties, but only recently saw a photo on line of a mature one. I had been staggered how large they grew. Wish I could see one like that... Famous last words, because what did I see dashing across the road south of Fittleworth today and it really was moving! A huge Puss Moth caterpillar. Judging by it's olive colour I guessed it was ready to pupate, so I placed it in a small box with a sprig of poplar and took it home. Within five minutes of giving it some suitable soil and a chuck of bark it was already wrapping itself up in a cocoon. I'm forever stopping the car for twigs in the road, thinking they are caterpillars in jeopardy. It's nice to get right for once. (Josse Davis)

On Monday I visited Cissbury Ring and saw many Chalkhill Blues, a Dark Green Fritillary and two moth larvae. On Tuesday morning I did my Mill Hill butterfly transect and recorded the highest number this year: 351. Meadow Brown, Chalkhill Blue and Common Blue have more than doubled their numbers since last week. Results: Brimstone 1, Chalkhill Blue 64, Clouded Yellow 1, Common Blue 36, Dingy Skipper 1, Gatekeeper 46, Green-veined White 13, Marbled White 11, Meadow Brown 142, Peacock 3, Red Admiral 9, Small Heath 1, Small Skipper 2, Small Tortoiseshell, Wall 10. The Walls were all over the hill. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

News for Monday 28 July: 3 Clouded Yellows at Wakehurst Place flying well just after the rain storm. (Steven Robinson)

News for Saturday 26 July: I recorded this odd Gatekeeper at Houghton Forest (TQ001108). Very similar to the ab. albinotica in the Cockayne collection, though the orange is somewhat stronger. Would be appreciative of any feedback from the experts. (Dave Potter)

Butterfly and Moth Walk, Swanborough Hill, Saturday 26th July
Suitably bolstered with tea and biscuits, thirty hardy souls braced themselves for the steep haul up Swanborough escarpment. Taking frequent stops en  route, mainly to admire the numerous butterflies and moths (but also to gain some respite from the 30 degree temperature), a lovely colony of Roesel's Bush Cricket took an early lead for viewing time. Not to be beaten, almost immediately afterwards the target species, Chalk Carpet, responded with a winning fly by. Numbers seen indicate they are having a good year. A thirsty Clouded Yellow maintained the interest and further stops took in antennal checks of skippers (Essex mainly), photography of Wall Brown and Grass Emerald and admiration of the scenery from the South Down`s Way generally. The sunshine remained until lunch close to the old Juggs Road on nearby Kingston Hill. The annual Purple Hairstreak quest kept everyone guessing until attention was distracted by an (eventually) obliging and very big Dark Green Fritillary. Soon afterwards the sun, but not the heat, diminished, and the anticipated Silver-spotted Skipper did their cloudy disappearing trick. Despite this a total of 25 butterfly species were seen: Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Hedge Brown or Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Wall Brown, Speckled Wood, Essex Skipper, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Large White, Green-Veined White, Small White, Clouded Yellow, Chalkhill Blue, Common Blue, Brown Argus, Small Blue (egg only), Small Copper, Holly Blue, Purple Hairstreak and Dark Green Fritillary. Moth species included Six-spot Burnet, Agriphila straminella, Agriphila tristella, Grass Emerald, Riband Wave, Red Twin-spot Carpet, Chalk Carpet (10), Brimstone Moth, a single larva of the Broom Moth, and Silver Y. Local artist Mary Smythe provided a welcome feast of cream scones and tea in her delightful garden cottage at the end of this sweltering day. Thank you, Mary. (Steve Teale and Dave Harris)


Monday 28 July 2014

I wrote a couple of days ago that I hoped the Marjoram I planted this year would draw in a Chalkhill Blue. Today I was counting the Common Blue in my flower meadow (at least 6 male and 1 female) when I realised that I had a different blue which was perched on the top of a dead flower head. A male Chalkhill Blue! A common enough butterfly but a first for my Storrington garden. That increases the total for the garden to 31 species (24 species for this year, so far). (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Today me and my family were in Haywards Heath due to a prior commitment, to pass the time we visited Victoria Park, once the weather cleared. Seeing the presence of oak meant only one thing, Purple Hairstreak. I check to see if any were present and I found three in total, with the addition of another one seen by my mum, totaling four, this around 1:25pm. These were seen on the following oaks, one on (TQ33062361), two on (TQ32992361) and my mum's sightings on (TQ32952366). Whilst there I also saw two Small White, one Meadow Brown, one Speckled Wood and one Small Tortoiseshell. On the way back into Brighton we made a visit to garden pride, garden centre in Ditchling. Whilst there I again looked at the present oaks but saw nothing, however seeing, two Small White, one Large White, 2 Meadow Brown, and 1 Gatekeeper. I also saw three Small Tortoiseshells, these were all on a bunch of scabious flowers, so naturally I ended up buying one, it has to be good when the butterfly selects it for you! The scabious variety is called 'Barocca' and they truly loved it, found at (TQ33201681). (Jamie, Gail & Jeff Burston)


Sunday 27 July 2014

For the 2nd Sunday running a Clouded Yellow near Cradle Hill. Also 2 Painted Lady seen this weekend, one in the garden and the other at High and Over. Silver-spotted Skipper numbers all over the Downland seem to be pretty good this year. (Bob Eade, bobsbutterflies.blogspot.com)

On Sunday I visited Cissbury Ring and I found a large number of summer butterfly species, including Painted Lady, Dark Green Fritillary and Wall. Several species had Red Mites (Trombidium breei) attached to them. At home I found an Angle Shades larva that has been decimating a mint plant on the balcony. We will follow its progress with interest. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Since moving down here in 2001 we have, each year, had a good numbers of Chalkhill Blue passing through our East Dean downland garden. (TV562984)
Today for the first time we witnessed a female egg laying on and around, Mike Mullis supplied, Horseshoe Vetch! (Carole & David Jode)

On Saturday I went to West Wittering on a very warm day. Despite a beach outing which was excellent (why go abroad), I found time to explore the Dunes. In the middle there is a small patch of sallow which has been there for years and as expected once again there were lots of lovely Buff-tip moth caterpillars, in fact there must have been over 60 in various instars in clumps not only on the Sallow but also feeding on a small Birch tree. On the sallow they strip the leaves systematically from the outer edge of a branch. On the Birch they leave scallop shapes on lots of individual leaves. In addition there were numerous Gatekeepers but also a female egg-laying Clouded Yellow. I could clearly see the single eggs she laid on a trefoil. Alas I didn't have camera with me.
On Sunday late afternoon I visited Wolstonbury Hill on which the summer flowers look fantastic. Thankfully the Bridleway up from Pyecombe street has been repaired, so the walk there is a lot easier. On the way Speckled Woods, Red Admirals and Holly Blues. Two male Holly Blues were collecting minerals or water on the ground by the road side. On the hill, species seen - Meadow Browns, Brown Argus and Common Blues all numerous, Small and Essex Skippers, few Chalkhill Blues, Small Heaths, Small Coppers and Small Whites, a couple of worn Dark Green Fritillaries plenty of Gatekeepers and one mating pair out on the hill plus a couple of mites, and several Small Tortoiseshells nectaring on the Marjoram flowers. In addition there were day flying moths such as of Treble-bars, Chalk Carpets and a few mint Pyrausta and plenty of worn Six-spot Burnets. Around the spoil heap and adjacent gully, there were large numbers of Silver-spotted Skippers all in very good condition. They have continued to do well in recent years at Wolstonbury and presumably firmly established now. 3 Clouded Yellows were seen passing by but the biggest surprise was a Dingy Skipper, which has got to be a second generation individual - it was very light in colour but didn't show any particular signs of wear and tear around the wing edges. I only saw it briefly before it vanished amongst all the other butterflies on the wing. So only a single poor record photo. But a lovely walk on the Downs at Wolstonbury Hill as always. (Richard Roebuck)

News for Friday 25 July: On Friday during a two hour visit to Fairmile Bottom in the early evening gave me several new micro moth species plus a roosting Common Blue: Barred Grass-veneer, Burdock Conch, Thistle Bell. Also several Eupithecia larvae on a thistle flower which may be of the Satyr Pug. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Saturday 26 July 2014

Crawley Down - Two unusual visitors to the garden buddleia today were a Silver washed Fritillary and a White Admiral, both a bit worse for wear. Plus 4 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Peacock, 1 Red Admiral and numerous Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Skipper, Large And Small White throughout the day. (Jonathan Ruff)

A week ago there were more than sixty butterflies in my Storrington garden. Today marginally fewer in number but seventeen species recorded as follows: Gatekeeper (15), Meadow Brown (7), Small Skipper (7), Peacock (7), Large Skipper (4), Common Blue (3 male, 1 female), Red Admiral (3), Small White (3), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Brimstone (2), Large White (1), Green-veined White (1), Small Heath (1), Painted Lady (1), Small Copper (1), Holly Blue (1) and Brown Argus (1).
This year I planted several square metres of Marjoram in the hope that it might attract a passing Chalkhill Blue. It hasn't happened yet but I have to say my regular garden butterflies just love it and there are often 10-12 Gatekeepers busily feeding as well as countless Honey Bees. The Painted Lady didn't hang around very long, nectared on Field Scabious for a few minutes and then left (note, it ignored the Buddleia - seemingly preferring a meadow plant). (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Exciting day today, starting with a run along the seafront & a swim before breakfast and rounded off by a posh lunch out with my elder daughter in Chichester and the theatre - so the butterfly experience in between had to be good to equal these. It was - 5 different butterfly types in our back garden (New Church Road, Hove) in 15 minutes  definitely a record as we are not blessed with variety here. Cast, in order of appearance:- a Small White, a Speckled Wood (in the usual Speckled Wood favourite spot under the apple tree), a White-letter Hairstreak (only our 2nd in 26 years here  the first was last year), an Essex Skipper (skippers are very rare in our garden) and a Meadow Brown (very occasional). There were several other whites and one may have been a Large White, which would have meant 6 different types if we could have confirmed it. After last year I had been hopeful of more White-letter Hairstreaks, but was coming to believe we would not be lucky. I was sitting out in the garden at about 10.15am reading the paper and only saw the hairstreak because I'd put my glasses on to watch some low level swifts go screaming by. It came from behind the apple tree and landed on it just long enough for me to approach and be sure of its identity. It did fly round again a few minutes later so I got Val to come out to see it - and of course it had gone. However Val did see the skipper on the lawn, which I would have missed. There is a several-trunked elm in the park just behind our garden which would be my best bet for the hairstreak's home. I think the elm has regenerated from one which blew down in the great storm of 1987, just before we moved here. The next best alternative is the last great elm, maybe 80-90 years old, on the Saxon road side of the park. Its nearby sisters have succumbed to Dutch Elm disease in the last few years and it bears the brunt of the salty south-west winds, so we're always a bit fearful for its survival. Added bonus - on my travels to Chichester I saw a Small Tortoiseshell at Shoreham station and an unexpected Brimstone by the level crossing at Chichester station. (John & Val Heys)

Only two skipper specimens seen on a three hour walk round Anchor Bottom - one was a Small Skipper and the other a Silver-spotted which conveniently came and perched near to me just as I was preparing to leave. This individual encouraged me to continue looking for another thirty minutes but to no avail. Other species included a smattering of Chalkhill Blues, Clouded Yellows and a single Dark Green Fritillary. (David Buckingham)

Recent news: At midday on Thursday 17th July I had to be in Eastbourne for a meeting and so I reasoned that it would be a good idea to go to Deep Dene beforehand, to look for the Grayling, given that Dave Potter and Martin Peacock had some luck on Monday 14th July. I was pleased that they had given the time when they had seen their first Grayling (09:50) because it made me feel confident about seeing the butterflies this early in the day.
In my case the first individual made itself seen at 9:45. It was at the far end of the dene and so I spent a lot of time around this area because in the past I have always seen the butterfly in this location. Pretty soon I had counted perhaps as many as 5 to 7 specimens. This is a lot for me because I have never seen more than one or two, perhaps because I have tended to go towards the end of the season.
After spending quite a bit of time following individuals as they flew from one barren chalk patch to the next, I decided to walk back to the car, along the top of the valley on this south-facing slope. Then as I traveled from east to west I encountered an incredible number of Graylings, the experience really overwhelmed me. By the time I reached a place in the fence where I could leave the dene, I guessed I had seen between 50 to a 100 butterflies. I thought this must be exceptional and so I rang Michael Blencowe, the Species Champion for the Grayling but he was out. So I gave Neil Hulme a call. We both agreed that a proper count would be a good thing to do and so I agreed to do this. Then just as I started to walk the length of the dene again, I disturbed a pair of Grayling in copulation.
The couple managed to fly to an area where some gorse had been cleared and almost immediately another male was alerted to their presence. He then started the famous Grayling courtship behavior, first described by Niko Tinbergen. He did this despite the fact that she was attached to another male. If you are unfamiliar with this display you can read about it in all three editions of Jeremy Thomas & Richard Lewington's The butterflies of Britain & Ireland.
I took a series of photographs before I realised that some different behavior was taking place and then I remembered that I had a new camera with HD video recording capabilities. What I recorded was a fascinating piece of butterfly behavior. If you would like to see the footage, you can access it via the following link: www.bigbiodiversitycount.org.uk/Grayling.mov
For those of you that cant access this quicktime movie, for it is a large file, let me describe what happened.
Firstly, the intruding male lifted his forewings to display the orange underside, showing his eyespots. This much I recorded using conventional photographs. Then facing the female, he raised his body and started to shake it with a series of jerks, whilst all the time his antenna were each pointing at the quarter to and quarter past positions, on a clock face. Then the body jerking stops and the antennae were raised towards the 12 oclock position. Next they both drop back down towards the quarter to and quarter past positions but they moved as if they were the hands of a clock, each marking out the passing of a series of second. Then the antennae moved up and down, very fast, like window screen wipers in a rainstorm. This continued for at least 40 seconds before the male stopped this behavior, opened his wings, lifting himself up towards the female, capturing her antennae in between his wings and then drew back to ensure that her antennae were pulled over the scent glands, on his wings.
The final part of this display I was familiar with but the part in the middle where the male uses his antennae to display a form of semaphore was entirely new to me and I was pleased to have captured it on video. Time and again the male attempted this routine and every time he did so, the female signaled her rejection by simply flashing open her wings, once. The other male completely ignored the entire display. Eventually the intruder gave up and flew off. By this point I had run out of time and had to go or I would have missed my meeting. As I drove off at 11.00hrs, the temperature meter in my car read 28C.
The following morning (Friday 18th) I found myself drawn back to Deep Dene, only this time I went with my daughter Carmen. I was determined to walk the same transect that I had the previous day, only this time Carmen used an app on her iPhone to calculate the actual distance we travelled. So we walked along the top of the dene, three times, a transect distance of 420 meters. At 10.38 we counted 52 Graylings. At 11.17 we counted 42 and at 11.27 26. Each successive count appeared to be a warmer experience for us. This gave a mean count of 40 butterflies and a maximum of 52. Of course as my daughter pointed out, we were only counting those butterflies that were flying. Many males were probably sitting in the chalky display sites, remaining uncounted by us, awaiting passing females. However, this still meant that we had seen one Grayling every 10.5 metres. Furthermore, the actual south facing bank we had worked on was probably double this length, say somewhere between 0.8 and 1 Kilometre.
As part of this exercise at 10.55hrs, we walked down into the dene, at the far end, where the diagonal path on the hillside reaches the bottom. This was a distance of 170 meters but we only recorded 7 Graylings on the way down. Then at 11.00hrs we counted all the Graylings that we saw as we walked up the diagonal path. The distance was again 420 metres and we counted 26 Graylings. However, we both got the distinct impression that the butterflies became more abundant the higher we climbed.
Given these results I would estimate approximately 200 individual Graylings on the entire site, based on those individuals that were flying. The actual number could have been very much higher.
I know that Crispin Holloway and Chris Thomas have looked at thermal imagery to predict the location of Silver-spotted Skippers and I know that Dave Green has access to a thermal imaging camera and it makes me wonder what temperature differences Dave would discover in the dene, if he was to film that slope from the opposite side of the dene. Is it warmer at the top, or cooler? Does this affect the abundance of the Grayling at different places on the slope?
Talking of Silver-spotted Skippers, I only saw one during my entire time at Deep Dene and this had been on the Friday.
As we walked back amongst the many (clouds) of Chalkhill Blues and Dark Green Fritillaries, we also saw a solitary Grayling flying down the track, at the end of Ewe Dene, halfway towards the reservoir. I could not help think that if some breaks were made in the gorse, at the top of the south-facing slope of Deep Dene, perhaps more Grayling would spill out of their homeland.
As we left, the temperature in the car read 26C and I got the distinct impression that this difference in temperature between the two days may have some bearing on my view that there had been more butterflies on the first day rather than the second day. Either way watching the Graylings antics had been a fabulous experience and even Carmen could not help be amazed at the Graylings beautiful gliding flight. Ill make a lepidopterist out of her yet. (Dan Danahar)


Friday 25 July 2014

News for Thursday 24 July 2014: On Thursday a service was held for Joyce Gay (1932 - 2014), who was BC Sussex Branch Recorder for many years, from way back in the 1980s until 2004. Despite extensive enquiries I am still trying to find out the year in which Joyce first started to collate Branch records, a task which she performed with energetic rigour. All of those involved with butterfly recording today have the utmost respect for her considerable achievements. Joyce and husband Peter, who campaigned hard for National Park status for the South Downs, published the 'The Atlas of Sussex Butterflies' in 1996. Just as the service was starting in Guildford, I stopped recording butterflies for a few minutes, whilst stood just below the ramparts of Cissbury Ring. Almost immediately a beautiful, male Silver-spotted Skipper landed in front of me and posed with half open wings. This species was facing extinction in Sussex when Joyce started recording, being restricted to a small area around Windover Hill, where its existence was shrouded in secrecy. How things have changed! The species has moved over 30 miles of downland to get to Cissbury Ring; just the sort of detail that Joyce would have relished recording. The good news is that throughout the morning and early afternoon freshly emerged specimens kept appearing, initially clinging motionless to grasses and flowers as they dried off. Within an hour or so they became completely unapproachable, whizzing across the turf at characteristic break-neck speed. I counted 16 in total, including 14 male and 2 female. This is an encouraging count so early in the season, particularly as I only discovered this colony in 2013, although the first pioneering female(s) must have arrived during the previous year. (Neil Hulme)

A visit to Beckley woods proved to be truly spectacular, with an abundance of butterflies particularly Peacock of which there were many hundreds, Silver-washed Fritillaries. were also in good numbers. A single Painted Lady in pristine condition took nectar from some low growing thistles. A tired old White Admiral came down on some purple loostrife. Anyone wishing to see butterflies en mass should visit whilst this weather holds. Beckley Woods is served by some very narrow lanes from the A28, drive with caution. (Trevor Rapley)

Decided to go on a walk along Eastbourne's Cliff-tops and on the way I saw 1 female Common Blue at TV599986 and a pristine Painted Lady at TV602974. When I arrived I saw 5 Chalkhill Blues, 13 Meadow Browns, 2 Gatekeepers, 4 Large Whites, 3 Small Whites and 15 Small/Essex Skippers at TV600969. At TV598966, TV597966, TV596966 and TV595965 together I saw 8 Marbled Whites (One With a Parasite on it), 1 Clouded Yellow, 50 Chalkhill Blues (Found 4 females), uncountable Small/Essex Skippers and Meadow Browns, 2 Gatekeepers, 3 Common Blues and just as I was about to leave I saw a skipper land for 1 second on the path I was walking on before flying off. I admit I was walking fast and didn't get a great view of it, but it looked very much like a Silver-spotted Skipper. I now wonder whether to add it to my year's list as a Silver-spotted Skipper. Should I? (Billy Thomas)

News for Wednesday 23 July: The Grayling is an endangered species in Sussex and, other than the occasional incursion in the far west from the heaths of Hampshire, it is now restricted to the chalk grassland colony around Windover Hill at Wilmington. In some recent years the population has been worryingly low. On Wednesday I started the long ascent up the chalk track and it soon became clear that most downland species are having a good year here. Some areas of the track seemed particularly attractive to mineral-hunting Chalkhill Blue males, and clouds of 50 - 100 were regularly flushed from the surface. Throughout the day I made a conservative estimate of 5000 for this species. Other high summer species included numerous Wall, freshly emerged Silver-spotted Skipper and plenty of Dark Green Fritillary, many taking on their late-season faded colours. However, it was the enigmatic Grayling I was keen to see. The Grayling is having a good season here and males could be found at regular intervals on the track from the reservoir to the summit and beyond. As I dropped into their valley stronghold I was struck by the large proportion of very fresh females, with several already busy laying eggs. They performed all of their usual tricks, sitting on my boots, trousers, shirt and rucksack. In all I counted 145, but there will be many more present than this. It would be nice to think that they might wander and reclaim a little of their lost ground this summer. As always at this time of year, the slopes were covered in the very local and scarce Yellow Pearl (Mecyna flavalis) moth, although numbers seemed lower than in some seasons. In these times when so much is in decline, it is heartening to spend a day surrounded by clouds of butterflies, reminiscent of the long-gone days of wider plenty. Well worth a visit this weekend! (Neil Hulme)

Comment: I was most impressed with Jamie Burston's extended tripod, designed for photographing Purple Hairstreaks in the canopy. The great I.R.P. Heslop, lead author of Notes & Views of the Purple Emperor', was famed for his ridiculous but effective high net', which towered above his cottage chimney. I suspect that were Heslop still alive, he would have given up collecting Purple Emperors by now (and shooting elephants), and would be building high-rise camera platforms such as this. Such silliness is to be applauded and encouraged. (Neil Hulme)


Thursday 24 July 2014

On Thursday July 24 visited Wendover Hill to see the Grayling colony. It seems to be another good year as was the case last year. This time there was one standing guard at the entrance to the downland where the colony is located. Maybe because this area was protected from the wind by the surrounding bushes and because of the variety of flowers there, this individual had a fondness for one of the flowers including what looked like wild basil (picture on page 317 of Richard Mabey's Flora Brittanica). The result was the first ever photo opportunity for me of a Garyling sitting on a flower. In the adjacent more flower rich meadow you pass through to get to the site were a couple of late season Dark Green Fritillaries, one of which posed on a flowering knapweed, which is also having a good year. (Simon Quin)

There was a sprinkling of butterflies in Central Worthing on 23/7/14  whites, Red Admirals, Holly Blues, a Meadow Brown and, in Homefield Park (near the hospital), Speckled Woods. From the butterfly point of view, watching county cricket at Horsham (TQ168301) is good as there are plenty of mature trees on the east of the ground, a ribbon park with trees along the river Adur to the north and farm land just over the railway bridge. There are occasional tantalising hints of hairstreaks but never for enough for identification. Yesterday's haul (24/7/14) extended to a Comma, a Small Tortoiseshell, a Red Admiral, a Holly Blue, 3 Peacocks, Speckled Woods, Whites (of which at least one was Green-veined), Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. Going back to Horsham station after enjoying Sussex's 226 run win over Warwickshire, I came across a wild flower meadow in an area which the OS map calls New Town (TQ175299). Here at 5pm it was still plenty hot enough for Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Essex Skippers and Small Skippers  maybe 20 or 30 of each. There were also a couple of Large Skippers, a Small Copper, a nice fresh Common Blue, a very faded Ringlet almost masquerading as a Meadow Brown, and a dozen or so swiftly moving whites determined to remain incognito. (John Heys)

I record my garden butterfly sightings on the BTO Garden Birdwatch database and these, I understand, eventually reach the SBC, but I thought you might be interested in this Purple Emperor record. Last year Michael Blencowe adjudicated a couple of very short glimpses, by me, of a White Admiral or Purple Emperor as the latter. Above is a very poor image of one I saw yesterday on a hazel tree at the bottom of the garden. I think it is possible to just make out the white underside markings of a female. (This one looked too large to be a White Admiral.) Recording details: date: 24/07/2014, location: Garden, northern boundary of Lindfield Conservation Area, Grid reference TQ350260. (Terry Oliver)

Heading to and in Eastbourne I saw two Butterflies, 1 Gatekeeper (TQ60030077) and 1 Red Admiral (TV61439920), hopefully adding to the atlas. (Jamie Burston)

At Anchor Bottom, Upper Beeding, this afternoon was a Silver-spotted Skipper (my first ever at this site), also at least 2 Clouded Yellows, a few Marbled Whites, Brown Argus and the beginnings of the Chalkhill Blues for the year. (Dave Sadler)

Took a circuitous walk around Hollingbury Hillfort and Wildpark comb today in the hot conditions (good for butterflies, a bit sweaty for humans!). Recorded a total of 19 species with several in good numbers. Second emergence of several species that have been absent recently also apparent. The colony of Chalkhill Blues to the north of the Hillfort held only a few males but on the south facing slope within the Wildpark numerous individuals with mating, with frantic interloping males, occurring. No sign yet of any Silver-spotted Skippers here (having been seen last year). Newly present second emergence Brown Argus, Small Heath, Brimstone, Common Blue and Small Copper all seen in various numbers. Still good numbers of Marbled Whites with abundant Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and Small and Essex Skipper. Highlight of the walk was a white 'helice' form of Clouded Yellow in the centre of the hillfort. (Philip Thompson)

News for Tuesday 22 July: On Tuesday I met up with Dan Danahar to look for second brood Wood White at Botany Bay, Chiddingfold Forest. There wasn't much "looking for" involved, as I encountered the first within 50 metres of the car park and found half a dozen before reaching the concrete bridge. Numbers are still building and there are very few females out yet; a strong second brood seems inevitable. It took well over an hour before I finally met up with Dan, as my progress through the woods was constantly stalled by mud-puddling Wood Whites, and other delights including a magnificent female Purple Emperor on the track. (Neil Hulme)

,b>Recent news: 21/22 July 2014. In addition to 17 species seen on Mill Hill the day before, I added Green-veined Whites, Small Whites, a Comma, a Holly Blue and a Small Blue in Shoreham. (Andy Horton)


Wednesday 23 July 2014

This morning I visited Beckley Wood, arriving about 08.15 hrs. Several species of butterfly were active, especially Peacocks, which were present in relatively large numbers. I counted 14 of this species together on a small area of food-plant. During the two hours I was present at least 40 Peacocks, 5 x Silver-washed Fritillaries 3 x Green-veined Whites, 4 x Small Tortoiseshells and numerous Small Skippers and Gatekeepers were sighted. (Douglas Neve)

Today walking along Brighton seafront, parallel to the Volks Railway line I saw 1 Meadow Brown, 1 Common Blue and 3 Skippers, of which I believe to be Small Skipper, but hard to tell in the extreme heat they simple didn't want to stay put. All seen between (TQ32070369 and TQ31970371). Late evening I also saw a Mother of Pearl visit our house, lounge window. Regarding 22nd June - I found a Marbled Green in the bathroom which I managed to release back outside. I also forgot to mention that one of the Common Blues showed mud-puddling behaviour at the edge of Wild Park dew pond. To clear any possible concerns, the object I was holding was a tripod with the addition of bamboo canes for extra height, purely for the use of photography. (Jamie Burston)

8 summer brood Wood White Sussex wood near Plaistow and one Clouded Yellow in a grassy meadow in centre of Plaistow. (Margaret Hibbard)

I was very surprised to see a male Brimstone nectaring on a Buddleia in my Seaford garden which is located on the north side of the town. (Stuart Ridley)

Recorded my second Hollingbury garden White-letter Hairstreak of the year feeding on Marjoram and Small Scabious on my front lawn. Took a few rather poor photos. Also present a female Common Blue with an excess of blue scaling on the upper surface not unlike the Irish form. (Philip Thompson)

News for Monday 21 July: My father, Roy Symonds reports that he visited Stansted Forest (SU745115) on 21st July where the temperature was 24C. A good total of 14 different species were seen. Full sightings were: Brimstone 2, Large White 1, Small White 14, Green-veined White 3, Meadow Brown 20, Ringlet 3, Gatekeeper 5, Speckled Wood 3, Marbled White 5, Peacock 5, Comma 1, Red Admiral 1, Silver-washed Fritillary 2 and Small Skipper 4. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)


Tuesday 22 July 2014

I travelled this afternoon to meet up with Neil Hulme at Botany Bay. It was an "epic" day to quote Neil. Neither of us managed to meet up for some time after our arrival and so we both separately had unique experiences. One thing we saw in common was the astonishingly high numbers of Wood Whites and although they were very active during the first half of the afternoon, as the early evening settled, so did the butterflies. Neil was able to take some remarkable shots of puddling and nuptial proboscis entwining, mine were a little more pedestrian. However, It was fascinating to watch males fly the entire length of the rides in search of anything white, which upon finding they would investigate with vigour, anything from bird droppings to other males. In the case of other males, as soon as they were close enough to smell each other they were back on their quests again to find a female. I also saw some unusual behaviour where a female Small White chased a male wood white for quite some time???
Many other species were also very apparent, many fresh Peacocks were to be seen and on the only Hemp Agrimony clump in the area, I counted 11 Peacocks all nectaring with great diligence. Many fresh Brimstones were also evident, both sexes nectaring on Betony. There were also a good number of Silver-washed Fritillaries and the odd tatty White Admiral. Just before I met up with Neil I was delighted to watch a female Purple Emperor fly quite low, along a ride, clearly looking for some Sallow. It transpired that the same individual had almost certainly been entertaining Neil just Prior to our meeting. All in all a fabulous day. (Dan Danahar)

What a difference a day makes. Martin visited Newtimber Hill on Sunday afternoon and during his walk flushed a "possible" Silver-spotted Skipper. Encouraged by this I made a visit yesterday and during the course of the morning counted 50+ specimens, mainly on the northern end of the west facing slope. As Martin needed some photographs, we returned at 09:30 today and between the water trough (TQ2693511749) and the north west corner (TQ2696812648) counted 200+. At one moment I managed to have 5 specimens in the viewfinder at the same time, the hurried shot not the best but recording, for me, a memorable event. (Dave Potter and Martin Peacock)

This morning I decided to visit Botany Bay in the hope of seeing Wood Whites. I arrived there at about 08.15 hrs. and noticed my first Wood White as I approached the Triangle. By the time I had reached the Triangle I has seen three or four of this species. I moved on to the Triangle Meadow and saw at least another ten in flight. Due to the warm and sunny conditions, these were very active, however occasionally stopped for a few seconds to nectar from time to time. On my back to the Triangle I saw several more. During the three hours that spent at the location I saw at least 35 Wood Whites. I seems that this is a good year for this species. I also saw several Silver-washed Fritillaries and a single White Admiral. On my way back to the car-park I met somebody who saw a worn Purple Emperor on the footpath near the bridge. (Douglas Neve)

My annual Wall Brown count on a 4 mile circuit from home resulted in a count of 47. Slightly down on the record count from last year of 105!!!! Although well down it is still about average over the 6 years I've been doing this. I may still get another go in a few days time when the heat may not be so high that might help a little. (Bob Eade)

Brimstone has been found on 22nd July 2014 10:34 around Domewood. (Chris Prince)

Today I went for a four hour walk, at the edge of Ditchling Crescent I saw a group of three Small White (TQ32120830). At Hollingbury Hill Fort (General area - TQ32220791) I saw four very fresh male Chalkhill Blues, one male Common Blue, one Small Tortoiseshell - checked the legs! and one smart looking Small Copper. At Wild Park dew pond and the top of the ski slope (TQ32590772) I saw four fresh male Common Blues, one male Brimstone, two fresh Brown Argus and 2 Purple Hairstreak, with possibly one more seen - brief sighting. Furthermore, when you least expect it, they turn up. I saw three Wall Brown, fantastic! the last time I saw them at this location was 2012 (TQ32320781), I believed it was a one off as of 2013 producing no sightings. From what I could tell, all males, two in better condition and the other with a portion out of it's wings. I saw two Peacock on my walk (TQ32390787 and TQ32660773). Also 2 Speckled Wood, 2 Red Admiral, 1 Silver-washed Fritillary and multiple sightings of Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, and Skippers across all areas covered. It was great to meet John, who has been exploring this area as of his move to Brighton. Once home I saw a single Small Tortoiseshell in the back garden. Later in the evening I went back to the dew pond and saw just the one Purple Hairstreak, no doubt due to cloud cover. One of my photos show of things to come, if they don't come down, trying going up! (Jamie Burston)

I conducted my weekly transect at Mill Hill today where I saw my first Clouded Yellow of the year and the start of the second brood of Dingy Skippers: Brimstone 4, Chalkhill Blue 31, Clouded Yellow 1, Comma 1, Common Blue 14, Dingy Skipper 4, Gatekeeper 42, Green-veined White 10, Marbled White 17, Meadow Brown 68, Peacock 7, Red Admiral 2, Small Heath 2, Small Skipper 4, Small Tortoiseshell 4, Wall Brown 5, Treble-bar 2. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Marbled White in Robertsbridge - TN32 5AQ - land behind high street. Apologies for picture quality  went for camera  no sd card  so used phone... (Julian Palfrey)

Found a big green Privet Hawk-moth caterpillar in our garden in Coldwaltham yesterday and today, at 7:30pm, a Humming-bird Hawk-moth flew into the conservatory; the first we have seen this year. (Jim Glover)

Monday 21 July contd.

On Monday, Alan Stewart and I set about travelling to a range of established (ancient) chalk grassland sites to repeat work that we had conducted 20 years ago on the Auchenorrhyncha (leafhoppers), to look for differences in community structure which might relate to environmental change (particularly climatic changes). Longitudinal studies of this nature are increasingly being recognised as important tools to aid our understanding of environmental change.
The day was mostly filled with great discussions based on old memories and the problems associated with repairing non-functional equipment; Range Rovers, insect suction equipment etc, etc. However, I digress.
Whilst at Malling Down we were delighted to see two Silver-spotted Skippers, indulging in courtship activities and later in the day at Ewe Dene we saw a particularly fine female. All individuals were in pretty good shape. (Dan Danahar)

Yesterday at Chiddingfold Forest I was pleased to see many species on the wing including Silver-washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Peacock, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Green-veined White, Brimstone, Small Skipper and Ringlet. Just after I crossed the bridge from Botany Bay I spotted my first Wood White followed by another 25 during the next 3 hours. Most were travelling without stopping. I found a female laying and was able to follow her for an hour while she rested, nectared, and laid her eggs. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Visited Botany Bay for the second brood Wood Whites, which seem to be fully emerged now with over 20 seen. Both White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries were still out, the former more willing to pose than on the previous visit a couple of weeks ago. No Purple Emperors seen. (Simon Quin)

News for 16  18 July 2014: Last week I performed three surveys over the Knepp Castle Estate Rewilding Project area and the results over the Northern and Middle Blocks were remarkable. Many of you will have noticed that the Small Skipper is having a great year  at Knepp it's having a ball! The 790 individuals counted amount to an increase of 1174%. Essex Skipper is doing well too, with 159 individuals representing a 960% increase over 2013. Full details at http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4065&start=10000 (Neil Hulme)


Monday 21 July 2014

We saw our first female Common Blue of the year on the 19th July in our garden in Lewes, I looked for it again on the 20th only to find it had an early demise (see photo), thankfully a second was seen today. Other sightings include; Essex Skipper (1), Gatekeeper (6), Meadow Brown (2), Peacock (1), Large White (1), Small White (2), Speckled Wood (1). (Brian Cox)

Went for a walk this afternoon from High and Over towards The Comp and back along Cradle Valley. 22 species were seen with plenty of Wall Brown along the top. The biggest surprise was seeing 5 different skipper species, amongst the profusion of skippers present, within about 300m of each other along the valley bottom: Large Skipper (2), Small Skipper (lots), Essex Skipper (3), Dingy Skipper (1) and Silver-spotted Skipper (3). I will be amazed if I ever manage this again in one walk or even one day! It was also nice to see my first ever Small Blues at this site, including a mating pair. (Chris Hooker)

An amble up to Mill Hill produced upwards of 250 butterflies and included thirteen different species in as many minutes. The total personal species tally was 17 species including a first of the year Dark Green Fritillary, a fresh Wall Brown, my first two immigrant Clouded Yellows, a second brood Dingy Skipper, and about a hundred Chalkhill Blues (a week before they are due to peak). Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns. and Marbled Whites were all ubiquitous on the lower slopes of Mill Hill. Less than frequent (lower slopes only, recorded in single figures) were Speckled Woods, Large Whites, Small Heaths, Common Blues, Brimstones, Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks and Small Skippers. My first of year teneral Common Darter (dragonfly) landed in front of me. As I was about to go home I spotted a blue Southern Hawker patrolling the unruly hedge at the bottom of the lower slopes. (Andy Horton, www.glaucus.org.uk/Butterfly-list2014.html#21July)

News for Saturday 19 July: I joined Tessa Pawsey and Geoff Stevens for a very enjoyable walk at Hogtrough Bottom on Saturday. Situated in Bevendean, it is a quiet site which gives easy access to the Downs for anyone in the Brighton area. Even though it was cloudy to begin with, the butterflies did not mind - they were everywhere including numerous Chalkhill Blues. (Yvonne Dedman)


Sunday 20 July 2014

I found a freshly emerged female Brown Hairstreak on the footpath outside my house in Crawley this morning. It had slightly crumpled wings and had probably come from underneath one of the cherry plum hedges that form the boundaries of most of the properties in this road. I moved it to a safe location and grabbed a few record shots. (Vince Massimo)

An enjoyable few hours photographing butterflies at Birling Gap today included sightings of 1 (possibly 2) Painted Lady, 1 Small Copper, and a number of Dark Green Fritillaries most of which were probably now past their prime. Although not counting numbers as such Marbled Whites were pretty evident flitting around as were the Chalkhill Blues which spent much much of the time busily feeding on the abundant Wild Thyme. Outnumbering the above were the large numbers of Gatekeepers which appeared to be pretty much everywhere and the Skippers which I admittedly largely overlooked on this occasion. Supporting the above I saw several each of Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown and Large Whites which all in all meant I was pretty well entertained before it finally started to cloud over and I called it a day. (Robert Horne)

This weekend I went to Battle for my fathers 50th birthday. I managed to squeeze a couple of walks in.
19/7/14:
Found uncountable Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers as well as a couple of Small Skippers at TQ744158. There was also numerous Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers and 1 Comma at TQ742155. After getting lost I saw more Meadow Browns and a Peacock at TQ737147. Finally, on the way back there were many Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns as well as many Small Skippers at TQ7439114753.
20/7/14:
Went to TQ754161 and found many Meadow Browns and Small Whites. At TQ758162 I saw more Meadow Browns and 8 Grey Wagtails (ish). Then went into Battle Great Wood (The northern part of TQ71S) and saw loads of Meadow Browns and Ringlets and a few Speckled Woods. Lastly, there may have been 1 Silver-washed Fritillary but it only flew past so it may have been a large Comma. (Billy Thomas)

This afternoon I had well over 60 butterflies in my Storrington garden. If this is not a record for the garden it is there or there about. A dozen or more each of Small Skippers, Meadow Brown and Gatekeepers - mostly in the flower meadow but not exclusively so as the butterflies nectared on a variety of plants scattered around the garden. Eleven Peacock on the Buddleia, plus a couple each of of Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell. In the flower meadow there were also three male Common Blue and a few Large Skippers. Elsewhere there were two Brimstone and a couple each of Large and Small White. I have recorded 20 species in the garden so far this year - the most noticeable absentees to date are Brown Argus and Small Copper. (Martin Kalaher, Storrington)

Last night (19th) a moth I have long been hoping to trap appeared to my garden Skinner with 50w actinic in Hailsham - a Tree-lichen Beauty. I have also recently started to record all my micros and have attached a photo of what I believe to be Acleris umbrana that was also trapped overnight - if it is not please accept my apologies! (Chris Ball)


Saturday 19 July 2014

Despite the forecast of rain 8 people turned up to sample the delights of Bevendean butterflies. Hogtrough was looking beautifully flowery with its mosaic of long and short chalk grassland areas. Butterflies seen were:-
Small and Essex Skippers, Large Whites, Brown Argus, Common Blues, Chalkhill Blues, Ringlets, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Marbled Whites, Speckled Woods, Peacocks, Red Admirals, Also Six-spot Burnet moths And Cinnabar moths, many grass hoppers and Roesels bush cricket. Thank you to those who came to enjoy this often over looked site. It was good to remember that this was always one of the favourite places for butterflies of the late Colin Simmonds (founder member and chair of Sussex BC). (Tessa Pawsey and Geoff Stevens)

Clouded Yellow flew past me near High and Over on Saturday. (Bob Eade)

I walked up the path by the Youth Hostel, TV 5859, on Sat en route for Butts Brow and saw numerous butterflies on the downs despite an overcast morning - it was even better on the way back after lunch at The Eight Bells as the thunder storms never came and the sun shone! There were dozens of Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns, Small Skippers, Essex Skippers and Gatekeepers, several Common Blues and Chalkhill Blues, a single Small Blue, Red Admirals, Peacocks, a Comma, Speckled Woods, Large + Small Whites and a Dark Green Fritillary which whizzed by. It was so good I went back again on Sun to see all the above but also a Small Copper, 6+ Brown Argus, a Wall, a Large Skipper and a Silver Y moth. (Anna Grist)

News for Friday 18 July: After chatting with Chris Hooker in Deep Dene I also saw the 4 Grayling chasing the Peacock. As Chris says there are plenty of Grayling this year in the valley. A couple also on the path up from Windover. I did get a couple of mating pairs as well as a newly emerged individual. At least 3 Chalk Carpet as well on the path up from Windover and some fresh Small Blue. (Bob Eade, bobsbutterflies.blogspot.com )

More news for Friday 18 July: On Friday I visited Fairmile Bottom near Arundel which proved to be rich in micro moths with six new species. These included Bright Bell , a colony of Black-tipped Ermine , a Syncopacma moth and a Light Brown Apple Moth . (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

News for Wednesday 16 July: We've been away in the Isle of Man (where the graylings were out at least a week before ours) and haven't had time for any walks here since coming back. However, there has been more evidence of butterflies on the streets & in the gardens of Hove. On 16/7/14 in the New Church Road area we saw a Holly Blue, a Red Admiral and several whites. Best of all was a Speckled Wood in our quite small front garden  the first we've ever seen out there although we usually get a few individuals in the back garden each year. I think it may have laid an egg in the longer grass under our Magnolia, so I'll have to go easy with the cutting. We've since had quite a few small whites in the back garden. No Holly Blues out there yet & no sign anywhere in this neighbourhood of White Letter-hairstreaks  I was quite hopeful after seeing 3 locally last year, but the street elms were all pruned earlier in the year. (John & Val Heys)


Friday 18 July 2014

Took advantage of an early finish at work and stopped off at Folkington. From there I walked over to Windover Hill, finding plenty of fresh Chalkhill Blues along with Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Small and Essex Skippers, Marbled Whites, Large Whites, Peacocks, Red Admirals and Dark Green Fritillaries. Nothing though prepared me for what was to come. I entered the deep combe at the southern end and almost immediately found a Grayling. Working my way along the middle of the east facing slope I saw more and more, and at one stage had 10 in view at once. I also witnessed 4 Grayling vigorously chasing a Peacock! By the time I had reached the northern end of the combe my count was in excess of 100 individuals. I then worked my way round to the west facing slope and very soon found another dozen individuals. This was by far the most Graylings that I have seen in one day (1 hour to be more precise) and also the most active that I have seen them (probably because there were so many). And I so nearly got an open wing shot during what I presume was courtship (I haven't sent it though as the wing was almost shut by the time I pressed the shutter!). (Chris Hooker)

After 18 years the first White Admiral in our garden in Frant this afternoon. Worth the wait. (Alan Loweth)

Spent three hours wandering around the east side of Cissbury Ring in hot sunshine this morning. The Small Skippers were too numerous to count; about 20 Large Skippers were seen. A few Common Blues, two Brown Argus and six Brimstones. Only three Red Admiral and one Peacock. One Green-veined White, lots of Marbled Whites and a handful of Large Whites. Not many Gatekeepers but a few Small Copper plus Ringlets but very few Meadow Browns. The highlights for me were the twenty Dark Green Fritillary and seeing Round-headed Rampion in flower. (Polly Mair)

News for Wednesday 16 July: My father, Roy Symonds reported that he visited Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (SU8210) on 16th July. He reports the following sightings of 17 species from a 2 hour walk where the temperature was 22C. Brimstone 1M, Small White 7, Green-veined White 4, Large White 3, Meadow Brown 33, Ringlet 14, Gatekeeper 7, Marbled White 4, Small Heath 2, Silver-washed Fritillary 6, Dark Green Fritillary 1, Red Admiral 8, Peacock 3, Comma 3, Small Tortoiseshell 1, Small Skipper 13 and Large Skipper 1. (Richard Symonds, Pendeen, Cornwall)

Recent news: On Monday I visited Houghton Forest with Paul Fosterjohn and witnessed landings by 3 different female Purple Emperors between 12:05 and 12:51. On Tuesday I met Neil Hulme at the same site and we watched an Empress flying around a sallow plus a Red Admiral and a Comma laying single eggs on nettle. Later at Kithurst Meadow I found Gatekeepers mating, a Small Skipper laying on a grass stem and a Marbled White with red mites attached. On Wednesday my Mill Hill transect was fruitful: Chalkhill Blue 29, Common Blue 1, Dark Green Fritillary 1 (passing through very fast!), Gatekeeper 56, Green-veined white 2, Marbled White 41, Meadow Brown 40, Peacock 3, Red Admiral 3, Small Heath 1, Small Skipper 1, Small Tortoiseshell 1, Speckled Wood 1, Six-spot Burnet 17. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Thursday 17 July 2014

Today around the dew pond area of Wild Park, Brighton I saw 8 Purple Hairstreak! This is a good number for this population, as to my knowledge they mainly use just the one master Oak Tree (TQ32540773 - Centered on tree). I shared amazing views with Steve and Maggie East, of whom I bumped into. I saw upto four near to each other at one point, and multiple views of two dog fighting, these would slowly move away and downwards from the Oak, nearing two or three meters above ground before breaking off. This is by far my highlight of the year so far, nothing beats seeing your favourite butterfly having a better year then last. Of note all photographed were male, I managed to remember to take off my close-up lens, but then forgot to take it off the close-up setting! If you're local to Brighton or the Hollingbury/Coldean area then it's a must see. I had left the area of the dew pond only to find another (totaling 9), this was on an Ash tree, which they seem to prefer to fly around. (Jamie Burston)

Gatekeeper From my garden in Cuckfield where Ringlets have also been around some weeks ago. (Peter Lovett)

I have had the pleasure of Small Tortoiseshells in the garden for months. Nettles are perhaps the commonest native species I have. However to get to my raised beds I have had to mow some of them to avoid getting stung. Work has been so busy that I have neglected gardening and keeping things in a relative state of order especially the nettles and other native plants. Despite the plethora of weeds my Shallots are working out okay. The numerous rabbits are doing a grand job of mowing the lawn saving me another job and luckily they haven't been hit by Mixy yet. Anyway a small patch of nettles that I had previously mowed have got the better of me. As I was inspecting the estate (joke) this evening there were no fewer than four batches of caterpillars in various stages on the nettle patch immanently prone to stinging me, next to the rhubarb. This batch of nettles is in a shady area and only about four feet across in old money and interestingly Small Torts have completely ignored all the other nettles I have left alone and nurtured across the rest of the Garden. So nature knows best and I know nothing. Any chance of a generation separation, not in my garden, it's been more or less a seamless continuous production line this year of Small Torts. How very different from previous years with wet springs and research into parasitic flies. That's Population dynamics for you, and it all goes in cycles of good and bad years or even longer. The parasites trailing behind until they get just the right opportunity. Let's hope, not for a year or two. Holly Blues in previous years have been easy to see, I have only seen one two weeks ago visiting some Ivy. They are obvious by their absence this year perhaps another cycle of events.
On a slightly different note I spotted a Glow-worm by the back door at 10.00 p.m. After what was a bit of a photographic challenge in the dark and a somewhat obliging female, I finally managed to get a pic of the bioluminescence magic. At 11.00 I also found another two females shining in the garden darkness. Fantastic. (Richard Roebuck)

Lancing Ring - 1 or 2 Silver-washed Fritillary, 2 Wall, female Brimstone. Steep Down (Sompting) 7 Chalkhill Blue, 5 Dark Green Fritillary, male Brimstone and a Stoat. At both sights, very large numbers of Small & Essex Skippers, less Large Skippers now. Plenty of Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown. Also present, Ringlet, Common Blue, Comma, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Green-veined White, "Whites"... (Lindsay Morris)

Gallops area above Butchershole CP: I have been checking out the emergence of the Chalkhill Blues for the past couple of weeks and it seems they are later and far fewer this year - in the hundreds, not thousands. Maybe more are still to come? When I walked around the gallops a couple days ago, I was especially impressed by the numbers of 'Small Skippers', at least a hundred, and even more fresh Gatekeepers. Today I saw far fewer of both, but at least 8 Small Blue along the path above the gallops - one or two every couple of meters. Also saw a pair of mating Small Coppers, Meadow Browns, Small Heath, Whites, 5 Marbled Whites, 1 Peacock, 1 Red Admiral, 2 Small Tortoiseshells. (Susan Suleski)

I came across this striking caterpillar today at RSPB Broadwater Warren. I'm fairly sure that it's the larva of the Alder Moth (Acronicta alni) looks good to me... ed. Apologies for the quality of the image, my point and press camera was playing up. (Alan Loweth)

My wife informed me she saw a Meadow Brown in our Broadwater garden a few days ago. A good sighting considering we never even saw any butterflies at our previous address, but not one that is particularly unusual. However, having had some further thought and following consultation of the ID guide she informed me that it wasn't a Meadow Brown but in fact a Ringlet. I have to admit I doubted this as to my knowledge Ringlets don't usually inhabit urban back gardens. I am pleased to say I was proved wrong as the image on her phone was definitely a Ringlet (and a better photo than most I have managed of this species!). (Leigh Prevost)

News for Wednesday 16 July: With the weather remaining good it's been another busy week filling in the atlas squares across Sussex. On Monday I was joined by my colleague Jess Price as we filled in a few un-recorded squares around Ford and Angmering. In the evening Clare and I headed out across the west of the county searching the oak trees for Purple Hairstreaks. Almost every oak tree in the county has a Purple Hairstreak in it and with a bit of patience it is easy to record them - we managed to add another 15 squares to the atlas from Steyning to Arundel. On Wednesday I was joined by Laurie Jackson and we headed off to visit 4 squares that have never been recorded in the 2010-2014 atlas period. In every square we visited we found a Purple Emperor - in fact in one square near West Chiltington we found more Purple Emperors than Meadow Browns! It just goes to show that the Emperor is much more widespread than we first believed - if today's results are anything to go by you just find some sallow with a tall tree next to it, wait 5 minutes and one turns up! In the evening Richard Roebuck and I headed out on another Purple Hairstreak mission - this time trying to populate the map in the far SW of the county. Despite oaks being thin on the ground on the Manhood Peninsula we were still able to fill in 14 new squares for the atlas from Arundel all the way down to Selsey. I'm much more used to looking for this butterfly in the Wealden woodlands and I was surprised that its distribution stretches all the way down towards Selsey. It was certainly odd to be scanning the oaks and listening to avocets at the same time. (Michael Blencowe, Clare Blencowe, Jess Price, Laurie Jackson & Richard Roebuck)

More news for Wednesday 16 July: Bad result for Devil's Dyke - lost 10-0 to Newtimber Hill regarding Silver-spotted Skippers. The latter sight also held numerous Chalkhill Blues mainly around the chalk pit and a hand full of Dark Green Fritillary. (Lindsay Morris)

And a little more news for Wednesday 16 July: On Wednesday I went to Botany Bay in search of Purple Emperor and Wood White as soon as I arrived at the triangle I spotted a non-stop Wood White. I was later joined by Peter Farrant also in search of Purple Emperor. We soon saw some emperor action in the tree tops. Nothing could of prepared us for 1.20pm, Peters video camera was pointing the wrong way and mine on sleep mode when two Emperors dropped like a stone from the ash tree that we were standing under; they were involved in a major brawl as they tumbled which continued on the ground ending with a head to head face off. So two poor quality images are my only souvenir of the incident, it was all over in a flash. Peter said we had witnessed an already mated female rejecting an amorous male. By the end of the afternoon several more Wood Whites were on the wing. (Trevor Rapley)

News for Sunday 12 July: My husband Nick took these photographs on Saturday during a walk near Warninglid (TQ2424). I think these are Silver-washed fritillaries? (indeed they are. ed) It doesn't look like very comfortable ride for the (presumably?) female!! We also rescued this little toad from the middle of a road! (Helen Crabtree)


Wednesday 16 July 2014

We saw this Large Skipper today in the 'left to grow' part of our garden. I don't see many mentions and this is the first I have seen here, so all good news. (Hugh Colville, Rowfant)

Red Admiral, Location: Ifield , Crawley - back garden. normally seen feeding on Buddleia, this time flying around vegetation. (Mrs. Jean Greenfield) (BC member)


Tuesday 15 July 2014

Today I visited the Liz Williams butterfly haven and was overwhelmed by the abundance of butterflies. There are predominantly four species that make up the clouds of butterflies on the site, these include: the Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small and Essex Skipper. There are also some fresh Common Blues, which have just emerged and I think I saw a Small Blue as well.
When the butterfly haven was originally created I was really excited when lots of rare early successional chalk grassland butterflies started to colonise the site. However, as the site has aged and so the conditions have changed, it has become more and more suited to those butterfly species adapted to mid range successional conditions. Since there is so much mid range but poor quality successional grassland habitat around, the butterfly species found on such sites are considered common. But the Butterfly Haven is top quality mid range habitat and consequently these commoner species occur at incredibly high abundances. As I have spent more time walking amongst these 'common' butterflies, I have become increasingly aware of how important they are. Since they are common we so frequently overlook them but I took some photos today and sent them to Richard Roebuck and his response was... "Every single one is a beauty" and you know I believe he is right and I think we should take the time to appreciate them.
Every year Dorothy Stringer School has a Summer Festival, where there are many entertaining events taking place. This year the 'Festival' will be from 4.30 pm until 7.30 pm, on this Thursday, 17th July and the school is accessible via Loder Road, Brighton, BN1 6PZ, grid ref TQ 30899 06928. I will be giving two tours of the Butterfly Haven, the first at 5.35 pm and the second at 6.15 pm. So if you want to come to see this unique experiment and learn more about our future plans to design and create more butterfly havens, come along. (Dan Danahar)

At Hollingbury Hill Fort I saw 6 Essex Skipper, 8 Small Skipper and 2 female and 2 male Marbled White. These counts were taken just after 8:30pm. All at roost it gave me the idea to see the kind of ratio of Small to Essex Skipper on site, these were all within a area around 10 meters by two. I did see a Red Admiral as well, this is an individual I've seen on multiple visits to the Hill Fort, I know this because this particular one holds the same territory, landing almost in the exact same spot every time. I didn't spot any Chalkhill Blues so I will try again in about a week's time. As for the Dew Pond area I saw 5 Purple Hairstreak, four were on the Oak at around 6:40pm and then moving onto the largest Ash I noted the other singleton which flew into the area of another Oak. I tried the coomb of Wild Park for Purple Hairstreak, searching the largest Oaks, but this produced nothing, rather odd and it could mean there hasn't been an attempt of expansion to further Oaks nearby. I will have another go. In the coomb I did however see a group of 6 unidentified Skippers flying and 5 Marbled Whites with the addition of a single Meadow Brown. (Jamie Burston)

Mill Hill Shoreham produced many Chalkhill Blues as I hoped, despite the strong breeze. A Wall was an unexpected bonus. Also present were Dingy, Small/Essex & Large Skippers, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells, Marbled Whites, Red Admirals, Comma, Common Blue, Gatekeepers (very many), Meadow Browns, Large Whites. Later I checked out the mass of Lathyrus on the bank at Aldrington Basin. No Long-tailed Blues seen! Essex Skippers, Common Blue, Meadow Browns, Large Whites only. (Lindsay Morris)

News for Sunday 13 July: I visited Rowland Wood/Park Heath Corner on a very sunny and humid afternoon. As soon as I got out of the car a Silver-Washed Fritillary flew past. I counted 14 in total along with numerous Small and Large Skippers, Ringlets, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, 4 Speckled Woods, 2 Large Whites, 1 Brimstone, 2 Red Admirals, 8 Peacocks, 4 Commas. Not forgetting all of the Damselflies, Darters and Dragonflies. But best of all was a single female Dark Green Fritillary, the first I've seen there. (Howard Wood)


Monday 14 July 2014

This morning we visited Windover Hill in perfect weather conditions. After some searching we found our first Grayling on the wing at about 09:50. Subsequently we counted another 10+, and as we had five in view at the same time we believe this is a very conservative estimate, Location TQ5438903202. Making our way downhill we were delighted to find a single specimen on the path, just up from the car park at TQ5368803673. (Dave Potter and Martin Peacock)

Took a lunchtime walk around Malling Down today and found plenty of activity despite the strong breeze. Most numerous were, unsurprisingly, Meadow Browns. However there were also good numbers of Peacock, Marbled White and fresh looking Chalkhill Blues. Added to that I also saw Brown Argus, Small Copper, Common Blue, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Small Skipper, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Comma and Small Tortoiseshell. (Chris Hooker)

Better late than never: Saturday 12th July 2014 was a day of cloud and some sun, during which the temperature remained in the low to mid twenties. As has been indicated in some earlier reports, Richard Roebuck and I decided to go to the Gallops to see the newly emerged Chalkhill Blues, which turned out to be a really good idea because the vast majority of the butterflies were immaculate. My son Indi, wife Libby and Sarah Canning were also with us and after a most delightful picnic lunch we all spread out to look at the butterflies. In total we saw 15 species which included: Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Large Skipper, Brimstone, Large White, Small Copper, Small Blue, Chalkhill Blues, Red Admiral, Peacock, Dark Green Fritillary, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and the Small Heath. However, the stars of the show were the Chalkhills, with the Gatekeepers coming in a close second. Apart from the delight of seeing so many Chalkhills in good condition, it was also fabulous to see the range of different behaviours displayed by these insects. Some individuals were interested in nectaring, whilst some males were searching for females, other butterflies were engaged with courtship and mating. However, no females were seen ovipositing at this time. I did not see any aberrations but I was overwhelmed by the rich hues of the females' chocolate and toffee coloured wings, as well as the ice blue of so many males. It's interesting to note that the male Chalkhill Blues have blue body scales, which look like hair/fur. I guess that there is a blue pigment that gives these and the wing scales their colour and it is refraction of the scales that give the wings their "metallic" appearance.
Later in the afternoon we travelled to Horseshoe plantation, where the Dark Green Fritillaries were abundant and very active and its interesting to note that we spotted at least three fresh looking Painted Ladies. (Dan Danahar)

And finally: I noticed Mark's excellent pic of the Silver-spotted Skipper also appears to have has an Orchid Pollinia attached to its proboscis. (Richard Roebuck)


Sunday 13 July 2014

Walked onto Newtimber Hill on Sunday afternoon and found 2 Silver-spotted Skippers darting about on the slope. In the chalk pit nearby were half a dozen Chalk Carpets and what I presume must be a fresh second generation Dingy Skipper. Back at the lay-by there were 4 Essex Skippers and probably many more along the bank. (TQ267122). (Mark Cadey)

Today Matthew Oates and I led the last of the Knepp Wildland Safaris to see Purple Emperor this year. Despite being quite late in the season the butterflies put on a good show for us, with 21 individuals seen, including 4 females. We later returned for an early evening walk in a different area, adding a further 9. One particularly violent male attacked 5 passerines in as many minutes, including both Blue and Long-tailed Tit. By 6 pm the main target was Purple Hairstreak and we watched a bundle of 4 get mixed up with a couple of clashing iris. Towards the end of the day we saw a chase of 4 males in a vista, which is good by any standards. Numbers at Knepp are certainly down on last year, but 30 individuals on a late season afternoon confirm this site as being second only to Fermyn Woods (Northants). (Neil Hulme)

Sunday, a trip to a forest at Arundel with Dan with several Purple Emperor seen, but the numerous Silver-washed Fritillaries were very entertaining, with their balletic courtship flights, which also stopped other walkers in their tracks. At 17:15 I returned to a favourite spot at Knepp to see more high level spectacular action and a highlight being a Blue Tit being pursued by one male Purple Emperor. The males are battle-weary now and showing distinct wear and tear. But despite significant damage (possibly bird strike) one individual was till up for a fight with his competitors, albeit at a third of the speed. (Richard Roebuck)

Really pleased to see a White-letter Hairstreak next to Tesco Express near Hove Station early afternoon today. (Polly Mair)

This photo was taken in my garden on 13.7.14 Nevill Avenue in Hove. I am assuming it is a form of blue butterfly. It would be great to know exactly what butterfly it is. (Simon Judd)
Happy to oblige Simon, it's a Holly Blue. One of our more common species of blue butterfly and, of all the blues, the one most likely to turn up in a garden. ed.

Out on a walk with family I saw 1 Gatekeeper and 1 Essex Skipper identified amongst a group of three Skippers, the following located just outside of the playing fields of Patcham High School (TQ30730838). We went to Ladies Mile, the back path (TQ30550919 heading east to TQ31850951) is another area I wanted to check for possible Purple Emperor, hopefully I'll still see one this year. None were seen along this stretch of path however I noted seeing 3 Comma, 1 female and 2 male Common Blue, 2 Red Admiral, 3 Gatekeeper, 9 Meadow Brown, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Speckled Wood, 15+ Marbled White, 7 unidentified Skippers, 2 Small White and 1 Ringlet. Parting with my family I continued searching, now being at what I've personally named Ladies Mile 'top field' (TQ320094, this area and the same field running west from this square) I saw 1 Common Blue, 1 Peacock, this was a shock to the eyes, beautiful as it appeared so fresh. Also 2 Ringlet, 2 Small Copper, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Gatekeeper and 10+ Meadow Brown. Furthermore I saw around 15 Skippers, of which I managed to identify both single individuals of both Small and Essex Skipper. Marbled White are having a great year, I counted around 30 then lost count, however I feel there is easily 50+ across this top field. Located near to where I left are two patches of Creeping Thistle along with sparse growths amongst the long grass (approximately around TQ31770918), these flowers attracted good numbers of butterflies and created a delightful sight. On these patches of Creeping Thistle alone I saw 3 Gatekeeper, 9 Meadow Brown, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Small Skipper identified amongst 14 Skippers, 12 Marbled White and 1 Small White. However writing the numbers seen doesn't seem to match how many I feel was present, it was a special moment spent amongst butterflies flying around me. Over the full walk of Ladies Mile I also saw three sets of paired up Meadow Browns. Heading back home over Carden Park walking parallel with the created wildflower habitat (TQ31810890) I saw 1 Meadow Brown and 1 Small White. At the edge of Carden School playing fields I saw 2 Gatekeeper (TQ31930876). Finally in my back garden I saw 1 female Gatekeeper, 5 Meadow Brown, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Red Admiral. Also the addition of a Speckled Wood Today (13 July). A worrying note to say that as of Brighton and Hove's City Council Urban Fringe Assessment it puts both Ladies Mile NR and Hollingbury Park under threat of housing development in the future along with other green spaces in the City. (Jamie Burston)


Saturday 12 July 2014

The Duke of Burgundy emerged in good numbers at Heyshott Escarpment this spring, with a peak day count of 104 adults. Of course this is only a small part of the story, and the fortunes of each species from year to year depend far more on the success (or otherwise) of the early stages than they do on adult numbers; good flight seasons can easily be followed by population crashes. I was therefore delighted to see the extent of larval feeding damage to the cowslips on this site when I visited today. Plants over the entire eastern flank of the reserve were peppered with the characteristic pattern left by mature caterpillars. A diligent search is often required on Duke of Burgundy sites, but on this occasion the evidence was simply everywhere I looked, almost to the very summit of the slope. The majority of larvae have probably pupated by now, given the generally good conditions since May, and are now safely tucked up in their mossy beds. Things look very promising for the Heyshott Duke in 2015. (Neil Hulme)

On Saturday I went with my Mum and Dad, Richard Roebuck and his friend Sarah to some chalk grassland near to Friston Forest. I took a photo of some Chalkhill Blues mating and my Dad showed me how to pick them up. Richard then found a lot of Gatekeeper butterflies on some Blackberry bushes, so my Dad and Richard spent a lot of time photographing them. (Indiana Danahar)

On Saturday, a lovely picnic with friends at the Gallops Friston amongst the newly emerged Chalkhill Blues and supporting cast of various other Downland species of butterflies and several Forester moths. (Richard Roebuck)

This morning I visited Houghton Forest again and saw a grounded male Purple Emperor twenty yards from the car. A second male came down at one point, but did not stay. I wandered along a path and found my first Essex Skipper of the year, Marmalade Hoverflies and Pearl Veneer moths. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

Went to Brighton where I saw 2 White-letter Hairstreaks at TQ302056 and then saw another 2 as well as 1 Comma and 2 Speckled Wood at TQ301057. Later saw 1 Gatekeeper, 1 Meadow Brown and 1 Ringlet at TQ303061. Then went to Preston Park and saw only 1 Comma. (Billy Thomas)

Today I ventured high above Jevington in the Friston Forest and saw 1000's of butterflies! Spotted were: Small Skipper, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Dark Green Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Marbled White (I've never seen so many, hundreds!), Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Small Heath. Also spotted were Six-spot Burnet and several caterpillars. An enjoyable afternoon :) (Nick Linazasoro)

Sightings SU9312 (Benges Wood area) 12/06/2014, 9-10am:
Silver-washed Fritillary 16
Comma 1
White Admiral 1
Red Admiral 1
Peacock 1
Small Tortoiseshell 1
Ringlet > 30
Large Skipper > 6
Green-veined White 1
Meadow Brown 1
(Alan Perry)

Stopped off in the Ashdown Forest at the Smugglers car park for a short walk this morning. I managed to find 6 Silver-studded Blues including 1 female. There were also loads of Large Skippers, some Meadow Browns and the odd Gatekeeper, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Dark Green Fritillary and Comma. (Chris Hooker)


Thursday 10 July 2014

I decided to go and try and find some White-letter Hairstreak in the back lanes near home at Ashington. I wasn't hopeful as it was a bit windy. As I was slowly driving along, I was looking up and thought that's a good spot for Purple Emperor, some tall Ash trees downwind of a large oak and a large sallow bush at the base. At 16.18 straight away a male flew into view. So I parked up and started watching. Another male was also present and my god they were feisty. Spectacular aerial chases vertically up to great heights and chasing all over the place. One male had his preferred spot on an ash leaf and kept returning. They also came down lower searching around the top of the sallow. The first wood pigeon came past and it was instantly pursued. This carried on with two more wood pigeons and then two carrion crows all one after the other being pursued at great speed before peeling off and returning to the Ash tree. All this action carried on for over 15 minutes and then something quite extraordinary happened. As the two males were following each other just over the top of the main Ash tree and at a slightly slower speed, a kestrel came from behind me over my head and clearly grabbed the following male in one foot taking the PE clean out of the air and carried on out of sight. I couldn't believe what I had just seen. The timing of the strike was utterly extraordinary and totally seamless in execution. The kestrel was flying level at the time i.e. it wasn't a stoop. The lead male oblivious to this returned to his perching point. Wow!!!. I carried on watching and about 10 minutes later the kestrel returned a couple of times flying higher overhead. The remaining male still flew around a bit but everything had now calmed down, he was possibly lucky to survive the day. I decided to depart at about 16.50. (Richard Roebuck)

With every visit I become increasingly impressed by the Purple Potential of Eartham Woods. I used to visit this site in my childhood on family walks, but it wasn't much good for butterflies in those days. Things are rather better now, largely due to the sympathetic management by FC Ranger Rob Thurlow and his colleagues (Rob used to look after the Pearl-bordered Fritillary in Rewell Wood at Arundel before it was returned to the castle). About eight years ago, during a phase of thinning, some large scallops were cut into the margins of the towering beech, and then left to regenerate naturally. Good quality sallow has managed to get a firm foothold in most of these areas, along with ash, hazel and bramble. My count of 16 White Admiral was the best I've managed in Sussex since the species took a nosedive a few years back. Silver-washed Fritillary and Large Skipper both exceeded 20 and it was nice to see 4 Marbled White trundling along the rides. Other highlights included 7 freshly emerged Peacock. It was Emperors we were really after and a small group of us (Rob Thurlow, Malcolm and Joyce Hill) managed a combined total of 8, comprising 3 males, 3 females (one pictured) and 2 unsexed. They were still flying well at 6 pm and I'm fairly confident that a new territory has been identified at a high point in the middle of the wood, along Stane Street. This beautiful wood is slowly beginning to give up some of its secrets. Meanwhile, at Houghton Forest (Arundel), Colin Knight managed to photograph 2 females down on the main ride (see below). One was in mint condition and the other scored 8.5/10. Females are usually very skittish while on the deck (there are exceptions of course), probably because they are just after moisture and don't become as engrossed as the males do in nasty stuff, so he did well to get fantastic images of both. (Neil Hulme)

Since seeing a female Brimstone laying on the purging buckthorn in our Bevendean garden a month ago I have found eggs and larvae in various stages of growth, this one looks nearly full grown. (Geoff Stevens)

A casual stroll by the river last night, after an evening meal at the Snowdrop Inn, Lewes, revealed a male Privet Hawk-moth clinging to the base of a damp wooden bollard. (Dan Danahar)

On Wednesay I found Mill Hill covered with Gatekeepers, many of which were flying across the grass between hedgerows. Transect results: Chalkhill Blue 5 (including one female), Gatekeeper 30, Green-veined White 2, Marbled White 23, Meadow Brown 10, Peacock 1, Small Skipper 2 and Small Tortoiseshell larvae. I also found several moths: Brown Plume, Cinnabar larvae, Common Purple and Gold, Straw-barred Pearl, Wavy-barred Sable and Yellow-spot Twist. A big fat black adder slithered into the undergrowth as I walked along the bottom of the hill.
On Sunday I visited Houghton Forest and saw Silver-washed Fritillaries, White Admiral, Green-veined White, Peacock, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Speckled Wood. Moths seen were Pearl Veneer, Rosy Tabby and Small Fan-footed Wave. On Thursday I returned and was fortunate and delighted to find two female Purple Emperors on the ground at 12:30 and 2:30pm, the first in pristine condition.(Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

School boy antics? On the July 6th I found a vary large last instar Puss Moth caterpillar crawling along the lawn at the base of a Sallow tree. It was about 3 inches long and pretty impressive. However, the fresh pretty green coloration of ealier instars had been replaced with a rather dull green brown appernace, a clear indication that this one was ready to pupate. But in severe risk of predation. The interesting thing about the next stage is that this caterpillar needs to find a piece of dry wood or bark. So I placed it in a container with some pieces of bark, but had to go out. When I got back it was busy putting up the scaffold of its cocoon and had already picked up flecks of bark and postioned these on the outside of the cocoon. The caterpillar was very industrious and and over the next few hrs it was busy adding more silk strands to the construction to entombe itself. Every so often you could here faint crunching noises as it also chewed up more of the bark to secrete in to the cocoon structure. The main visible construction took about 5hrs to complete, but probably the finishing of the structure (i.e the internal plastering) carried on for a lot longer. Today, the cocoon is perfectly camouflaged and rock hard. Clever stuff. A long wait now, until next year and if successful, maybe, it will be come a beautiful she, on emergence? (Richard Roebuck)


Wednesday 9 July 2014

A short walk around Hailsham Country Park after work this afternoon revealed 3 Marbled Whites, numerous Small and Essex Skippers, a few Meadow Browns & Gatekeepers, a Comma and a fresh Common Blue. (Chris Hooker)


Tuesday 8 July 2014

The 2nd brood of Wall Brown have started. I thought I saw one on Sunday, but I couldn't relocate it and as it was such a fleeting glimpse I couldn't say for sure. However, this morning a female was very soon coupled with a male. A 2nd male was nearby having just missed out on getting his early morning treat!! (Bob Eade)

I Bit the bullet and went to the redundant West Grinstead Station on the Downs Link about 5.00 p.m. to walk the dogs. I have tried over past two seasons to find Purple Emperor here as I always thought it was a good habitat; however I failed to see them. Immediately I saw at least two males scrapping in a vista directly opposite the train carriage entrance door. In the Leeward side of an ash tree and they were also landing on tops of the conifers behind. TQ183225, I walked further along the Downs link and saw another male skimming over the sallow tops. I turned along the next footpath, as previously I thought this was a good location. I saw lots of Commas, Silver-washed Fritillaries etc. But no PE and obviously no stand of sallow obvious here. It isn't quite the right spot, I was wrong.
I carried on down the Downs Link where I know there are big sallow trees. At the next bridge I followed the path down and under the opposite side and straight down the side of a wheat field. TQ182234. (pic above) There were Long lengths of big sallow bushes rising up at the woodland edge with huge trees rising behind above ironically not a high point in the landscape and perhaps a bit exposed I thought with the current breeze. I stood and waited looking at a vista behind an Oak. On cue a male Purple Emperor sailed over and disappeared. I didn't seem him again and I presume he was transient through the canopy. I followed my steps back as it was starting to thunder and got to the edge of the wood and another male Purple Emperor did a big circle around the leeward side of a huge oak again he didn't return either. They were probably searching for females or moving between temporary territories. So in total I saw five male Purple Emperors in 40 mins between 17.00 and 17.40. For me this a bit of an epiphany as with some luck, some excellent tutoring and an awful lot of leg work over the years, I managed to get the season, the right time of day, the habitat and the gut feel bang on.
So far I reckon I have exceeded 37 individual PE sightings this season and not a single grounded individual, but that doesn't actually matter, as to see a PE chasing a Woodpecker is awesome; let alone the aerial combats with anything on the wing, however many wings they have. I have seen mostly males but I was pleased to get a couple of underwing shots of a confirmed female recently at Knepp. One with flash and the same one au naturel. (Richard Roebuck)

Blunt's Wood, East Sussex: Tues 8th July 2014. 1.58-2.17pm. after checking this site out last year. and not seeing what I was after i.e. Purple Emperor. I thought I'd do the same this year. after going through the gate and looking up I saw a male Purple Emperor I couldn't believe it, it's great when a hunch pays off. Then after watching a Purple Hairstreak egg-laying. I saw a female Purple Emperor 2.13pm flying and going in amongst the branches of a large oak, like they do when egglaying in sallows, a slow twisting flight, but I lost sight of her. Was she looking for somewhere to rest up? Then another two sightings of a male or males at 2.15 and 2.17pm. The area is by the mobile phone mast. Then the clouds covered the sun and that was that, I left when it started to lightly rain. What an afternoon TQ4055315195. (Peter Farrant)

Hundreds of freshly emerged Chalkhill Blues on the north slopes of High and Over on Monday. Also plenty of Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Skippers. We did note a high levels of infestation of the red mite larve of Trombidium breei on the Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns at this site and at Friston Forest. Also two Small Coppers, one at the gallops above Butchershole car park, the other at Birling Gap.
Tuesday at Houghton Forest, amongst the usual suspects, this Gatekeeper aberration, probably ab. excessa. I Checked the web but I could not find any information on its rarity value. (Martin Peacock and Dave Potter)

On a walk attempting to look for Purple Emperor (none seen) locally I saw 8 Marbled White, 5 Meadow Brown and 5 Skippers in a field (TQ323081). Then along the edges of a path running from (TQ32320811 to TQ32420778) I saw 1 Speckled Wood, 1 Marbled White, 6 Meadow Brown, 3 Small Skipper, 1 Ringlet and my first Gatekeepers of the year seeing four. Around the dew pond area of Wild Park I saw 7 Marbled White, 3 Ringlet, 3 Gatekeeper, 4 Meadow Brown and 6 Skippers. Going down the locally named 'dry ski slope' I saw 1 Comma, 3 Marbled White, 1 Gatekeeper and 3 Meadow Brown. Around the end of Wild Park coomb I saw 3 Ringlet, 4 Marbled White, 1 Small White and 3 Meadow Brown. Around this area was my focus for searching out Purple Emperor, hoping to find more sallow produced nothing, meaning the low number in Salix is highly unlikely to help establish a population here. I then proceeded to walk up the slope (TQ324080) seeing 1 Large White, 6 Marbled White, 3 Meadow Brown and 1 Comma. In this general area it was nice to see 1 Buzzard, 1 Green Woodpecker and two Robins. At Hollingbury Hill Fort I saw 2 Gatekeeper, 12 Meadow Brown, 5 Small Skipper, 1 Essex Skipper identified amongst 50+ Skippers seen, 20+ Marbled White, 1 Dark Green Fritillary, possibly a second seen or a repeat and two rather fresh looking Small Coppers. On the way home in the eastern section of Woodbourne Meadow I saw a single Small Copper. Back In my garden I saw 3 Meadow Brown and 1 Small Tortoiseshell on Buddleia. During my walk I also saw 2 Silver-washed Fritillary but out of respect of a friend's wishes I can't disclose their location. (Jamie Burston)

Recent news: On the 2nd of July 2010, Martin Warren visited the Liz William Butterfly Haven, on the Surrenden Campus in Brighton. This date is significant because it was while Martin and I were looking around the reserve we saw the one and only Marbled White to be recorded from the site. Of course at this stage the Haven was only three years old and did not look much like Marbled White habitat.
However, when we created the site, we mixed much more subsoil with the chalk substrate than I would do if I were to recreate another butterfly haven today. This is because the mix of subsoil and pure chalk has a much higher nutrient load than pure chalk alone. Ideally, nutrient low soils are best because this allows the wildflowers to have the competitive edge on the more aggressive grasses. Given that the reverse was true of the Haven, this has meant that over a relatively short timespan more rank grasses have started to take over the site, giving it a later successional feel, despite our best management attempts.
So it is with some considerable interest that I inform you that last year I saw a single Marbled White on the 28 Hectare Surrenden campus, not too far away from the existing Haven. This year I have seen a further two Marbled Whites on the campus, one of which I saw yesterday (7th July 2014) which was very close to the Haven, in some grassland that we have deliberately allowed to grow long. As can be seen from the accompanying photos, the location where the Marbled White was seen is in the foreground and the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven is in the background. Furthermore, my crude iPhone image of the butterfly shows that it was clearly a female.
Given that female Marbled White butterflies take little care in the oviposition process, it could be that this particular butterfly could have laid any number of eggs on site and so one would hope that next year the species could potentially establish itself on the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven. But to my mind this observation begs a question: is this potential colonisation of the site by Marbled White butterflies because it reflects a countryside wide trend observed by many of enthusiasts, of the species expanding its range or is it that only now that the Haven and surrounding land have reached the correct succession stage in its development, to be suitable potential habitat? Much speculation on the basis of one female butterfly, but it is interesting. (Dan Danahar)

Last Tuesday 1st July I completed my Mill Hill transect with the following results: Adonis Blue 1, Marbled White 25, Meadow Brown 17, Ringlet 1, Small Heath 4, Small Tortoiseshell 5, Speckled Wood 1. Judging by previous years, the Adonis is a late 1st brood emergence. Then I visited Southwater Woods where I enjoyed a close encounter with a Roe Deer which grazed 20 metres away after staring hard at me. I watched Silver-washed Fritillaries zooming around. I was following a Garden Grass-veneer when it was suddenly carried off by a Dance fly which suspended itself from a leaf by one leg. Other moths seen: Clouded Border, Common Sweep pupa, Dark Strawberry Tortrix, Green Oak Tortrix, Powdered Knot-horn, Small Fan-footed Wave, Straw-barred Pearl and Yellow Shell. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Monday 7 July 2014

It's been a busy week and I've I am just catching up with various butterfly reports across the county. More Purple Emperor reports are coming in - I had the pleasure of watching battling male Emperors with Margaret Hibbard high over the Downs at Graffham Down on Thursday (3rd) while leading a butterfly walk for students from Seaford College. I also recorded the Emperor over the past week while surveying squares for the Atlas at Rogate, Frant, Trotton (seen over the trees while waiting at a red light) and Petworth (one flew over my car on the A272). Exciting news from Markstakes Common north of Lewes where transect walker Ian Woolsey has finally found the Emperor that we always hoped was up in the canopy. Twenty new Purple Hairstreak squares were added to the atlas map this week by simply driving around under oak trees in the Cowfold / Twineham area (thanks to my hairstreak hunting partners Richard Roebuck and Jess Price). And, last but by no means least, a Continental Swallowtail was seen on June 29th by Annelise Brilli at Bosham. Other Swallowtails have been seen this week (5 in Dorset, 2 in Kent and 1 on the Isle of Wight). It's worth having a check of any wild carrot or fennel for the caterpillars if you're out and about. On Sunday we spent some time at Dungeness where an egg-laying female was seen in May. We were overwhelmed by the amount of fennel there - great future habitat for swallowtails! (Michael Blencowe)

Thought you might be interested to know. I saw my first Marbled White on Ashdown Forest yesterday near Friends Clump whilst cycling across. (Robert Ludman)
P.S. I have been walking the area for 40years.

After the paucity of butterflies that often occurs in late June, there were fresh butterflies on the wing very frequently seen on the downs with Marbled Whites leading the way with at least 71 seen, but there were as many of both Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers of the ten species seen in an hour. On the lower slopes of Mill Hill I recorded 33 Marbled Whites before I nearly stumbled into the first of eight male Chalkhill Blues. Other butterflies seen in ones or twos were Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Small Heath, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and Large White. Burnet Moths had just appeared and there was small pyralid moth Pyrausta purpuralis. (Andy Horton, www.glaucus.org.uk/MillHill2014.html)

News for Sunday 6 July: This morning Matthew Oates and I led a party of visitors around the Knepp Castle Estate, following a brief PowerPoint presentation on the life-cycle of the Purple Emperor. Despite suitable weather for much of the time we struggled to make double figures; the Emperors have become much more difficult lately, suggesting we may be further into the season here than we realised. After our guests had departed we headed back out, but it was only much later in the afternoon that Matthew added sufficient counts to bring us to a respectable total of 22 for the day. Several species showed here for the first time this summer, including Gatekeeper (large emergence), Essex Skipper and Peacock, the latter suggesting that the butterfly season is still running ahead of average. We also saw 4 White-letter Hairstreak fidgeting around the top of an elm. It came as a nice surprise to bump into Adrian Thomas during the afternoon, who many will recall set up our excellent Branch website back in 2006. - I'll second that! ed. (Neil Hulme)

Report from Saturday's BC / Graffham Downs Trust walk at Graffham Down: The forecast didn't look great for Saturday's walk at Graffham Down but the heavy rain failed to materialise. The weather was warm but a bit overcast which wasn't a problem. There were plenty of butterflies on the wing and the lack of sunshine meant that many species were not very active which allowed us to get up close and personal with Marbled Whites, Silver-washed Fritillaries, Ringlets and Dark Green Fritillaries. The one butterfly we all wanted to see was the Purple Emperor on his throne high above the South Downs. Sadly when the sun shone the winds picked up and the Emperor's favourite conifer was taking a bit of a battering - one of the downsides of having one of the highest thrones in England! We finally gave up and retired to a more sheltered spot to enjoy our picnics. Within a few minutes of sitting down a Purple Emperor appeared and flew repeatedly over us - I almost spat out my scotch egg. I tried to encourage Bertie the dog to make a small deposit to lure the Emperor to the ground but my plan didn't work - typical, when you need some dog poo you just can't get any. The view from the top of Graffham Down across to Surrey must rate as one of the best in Sussex - add an acrobatic Purple Emperor to the scene and it's pretty much perfect. Thanks to all who came along today (Michael Blencowe)

Moth Night news: The National Moth recording night took place 3rd to 5th July. So I thought I would give it ago on the 5th despite the rain which didn't actually blow up my 80W bulb surprisingly. Yes I caught loads of interesting moths and loads of species, so to celebrate the night I thought I would produce a pic. Now I thought I would go for Hawk moths as they are pretty interesting of which I got four species. Now could I get them all to sit still at the same time. No, the pristine Eyed Hawk-moth just wouldn't have it and we both gave up and went our separate ways. But the Privet Hawk was a okay, so best effort attached. And of course Elephant Hawks totally dependable albeit a few a bit fidgety. However something slightly different stole the show a Black Arches moth who was really easy to work with and just happens to have the most spectacular plumose antennae going - In Ashington anyway. (Richard Roebuck)

Recent news: My father, Roy Symonds reports the following recent sightings.
On 4th July on a circular Walk from Horsley Farm, Markswell Wood and Compton Down, West Marden (SU7614) where the temperature was 23C. Large White 1, Small White 6, Meadow Brown 39, Ringlet 15, Speckled Wood 6, Marbled White 1, Silver-washed Fritillary 2, Small Tortoiseshell 17, Comma 3, Red Admiral 1, Large Skipper 1, Small Skipper 1.
On 6th July at Iping Common (SU848219) where there was sunny spells temperature of 18C. Small White 1, Meadow Brown 7, Ringlet 2, Gatekeeper 2, Silver-studded Blue 29 (19M 10F), Large Skipper 4. The heather seems to have been cut in some areas and combined with the cooler weather may account for the small numbers of Silver Studded Blues seen. (Richard Symonds Pendeen, Cornwall)

Recent news: Had a glorious couple of hours in Sidney Wood (Chiddingfold Forest) around midday. Silver-washed Fritillaries were very abundant along with Small and Large Skippers, Ringlets and Meadow Browns. Also saw White Admirals, Red Admirals and a single Gatekeeper. I was to surprised to fine a Marbled White having not seen one in a woodland setting before. A single Purple Emperor was on the ground on some scat when I almost stepped it. I will remember to look where I am treading next time!!
On Friday I saw a single Purple Emperor in Turners Hill TQ331348 where I seen them in previous years. I was also very pleased that the Purple Hairstreaks have returned to Magnolia macrophylla in the garden after the their absence last year. (Tom Parker)

News for Friday 4 July: A female Dark Green Fritillary was in Rowland Wood last Friday morning and was appearing to be ovipositing. (Bob Eade)

News for last month: On June 30 I visited Houghton Forest and found more micro moths: Common Slender, Hemp-agrimony Conch, Rosy Tabby, Garden Grass-veneer and the macro, Straw Dot. Plus one I am still trying to id - these little critters are a challenge! (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)

And finally... Re Richard Roebucks great pic. of the Large Skipper egg, I would suggest it is on Wood False Brome grass, (Brachypodium sylvaticum). The small colony at PCH used a patch of this grass near the hut for many years, and I always found them close to it. (Graham Parris, Isfield)


Sunday 6 July 2014

There has been a fluctuation of butterflies in my garden in Eastbourne (TV593997). usually I'm just happy to see a Small White once a week fly over my shed but this last week has been different. A Marbled White flew over towards the downs and Beachy Head. That was a first for the garden, but then there was another! A Meadow Brown actually landed on my lawn and sat there contently for 10 minutes! Also a Small Tortoiseshell landed on the buddleia I bought just a week ago for species like the Small Tortoiseshell! In other news there is small but steady numbers of Meadow Brown at a park near my house (TQ594001) (Billy Thomas)


Saturday 5 July 2014

Purple Emperor news for 3 - 5 July 2014: There has been plenty of Purple Emperor action over the last few days, particularly over the Knepp Castle Estate rewilding project area. On 3rd July I visited the site with father and son team Dan and Indi Danahar, and Colin Knight. The weather conditions were perversely too good during our visit, with clear blue skies, little breeze and a rapidly rising temperature. During the middle part of the flight season these conditions can bring out the lethargic side of Emperor behaviour. However, I suspect they may have been much more active before our arrival at 11 am. By the time we went our separate ways we had reached an impressive tally of 34, but that gives a rather false impression as it was very difficult to spot them. Most activity amounted to the briefest flights of restless males, or butterflies which had been irritated by a nearby Purple Hairstreak. Female activity was also minimal. I returned to a different area of the Estate later in the afternoon, but could only add another 8, bringing the day's total to 42 Purple Emperor. On 4th July I spent a couple of hours in the very beautiful Eartham Woods. This under-recorded site has performed consistently well on the occasions I have visited, and this proved to be my best session yet. 3 males were sallow-searching around the car park and southern gate when I arrived. I later watched a female ovipositing high in the crown of a sallow on the edge of the car park. Best of all were the 2 females seen egg-laying in sallow-rich embayments along Stane Street (Roman road), much deeper in the woods. One in particular was gigantic and she flopped down low in a sallow, allowing me a very close approach - she appeared to be in mint condition. A tally of 6 Emperors (3m, 3f) in two hours is very good for a wood which is seldom visited. I later received reports from Paul Fosterjohn who had seen 23 individual Emperors back at Knepp, and Major Reg Trench who had seen a further 2 with his wife Sophie at Houghton Forest. Today (5th July) Matthew Oates led a large group of enthusiasts across the Knepp Castle Estate. They made the best of limited weather breaks, notching up a further 31 Purple Emperor. We are both out there again tomorrow with a group, and if the weather is good we hope to see a lot of male/female interaction. (Neil Hulme)

Whilst waiting for a Purple Emperor that never appeared. I noticed a Large Skipper egg-laying by the side of me. Taking a chance I turned over a leaf and there was unexpectedly quite a large egg. I am pretty sure it wasn't laid on Cocksfoot, yet to figure this one out. But nevertheless a first for me, of course they do it all the time, but actually seeing it is another matter, this was late afternoon next to a pond close to home. I did actually catch up with Purple Emperor locally today late afternoon, not far from the end of the garden, a single male who did some extremely long flights over the tree tops and he had a preference for a tall Ash tree. Compared with Knepp this one seemed a bit lonely. But I had a sneaky suspicion I saw a female who flew just over my head next to a large sallow bush, so may be his luck will be in. Actually I must mention I also clocked a White Admiral another first for my home tetrad. yippee. (Richard Roebuck)


Friday 4 July 2014

In my Hollingbury back garden I noted seeing 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Small White and 7 Meadow Brown, including a mating pair. On a short visit out with my dad I saw 3 Ringlet (TQ322083) in the second half of Woodbourne Meadow, as separated by a section of trees. Crossing Ditchling Road I saw 2 Large Skipper attempting to roost on a bramble patch (TQ32330837). Continuing on in the same field (TQ323082) I saw 3 Meadow Brown, also seeing Marbled White and Ringlet on previous dates visited. Finally at the dew pond, this seeming to be my second home I saw 1 roosting Marbled White. The PH didn't want to show as of the cold wind and the sun being obscured by cloud. (Jamie Burston)

I rescued a newly emerged Lime Hawk-moth from ants this evening and placed it safely in a bush. I have checked on it a couple if times this evening and, as you can see, it's wings are now fully open ready for it's maiden flight later! (Darryl Perry)

Recent news:2.7.14 male Purple Emperor down on track at 12.30 Sussex wood near Plaistow.3.7.14 Two Purple Emperors flying between tops of conifers in meadow (managed by Graffham Down Trust) on summit of South Downs. (Margaret Hibbard)


Thursday 3 July 2014

Spending half an hour in TV5695 around Belle Tout starting at 10am this morning we saw:
Dark Green Fritillary 20+
Marbled White 100+
Small Skipper 50+
Small Heath 50+
Common Blue 6
Gatekeeper 2
Small Tortoiseshell 1
Comma 1
Chalkhill Blue 1
Small White 1
Speckled Wood 1
We were alerted by Mary and Chris Barnett. The majority of the butterflies were just to the Eastbourne side of the new track up to Belle Tout lighthouse. It is good to see that for the first time in many years Eastbourne Council have got their mowing regime, just about right, in that area! (Carole & David Jode)

Recently I have spent many hrs. watching the newly emerged Purple Emperors in various tree tops in the local district, miles out of reach so to speak. This afternoon I had a phone call from a fellow cohort saying there was a female PE in a conservatory, that the owners wanted to release and whether I was as interested in having a look. Having selected warp factor 5 in the old jalopy I was there 10 minutes later. In said conservatory was a spread eagled PE high up. Standing on two chairs I took some pics and then realised it was a male. The next question was how to release it. My host disappeared to get a box. Meanwhile I had the bright idea of putting saliva on my finger and as a result said PE climbed aboard my finger without hesitation. I was then stuck for 10 mins or so with a PE stuck on my finger sort of shouting for help i.e. "I have got it". Any way in the meantime I took various one handed pics - as you do, from various contortionist angles with PE still firmly attached. My venerable host returned, so we decided that as the natural light was poor we should go outside, despite the risk of departure of said PE. Astonishingly I walked across the garden and had to literally push his majesty off my finger on to a leaf. It was then we could see the splendour of the double wing purple sheen. We admired this for half an hr. until calling my PE cohort, who hot footed it from Steyning. The PE must have stayed open winged for about an hr. until eventually closing its wings and presumably shutting down for the night.
So thanks to Roger and his wife and my friend David for the unforgettable experience of the beauty of the sheen on both wings of Purple Emperor - a first for us all. But you know what, the time I spent with his majesty sat on my finger was priceless, if not slightly bizarre especially with the lovely blue cushions. If I could repeat this little escapade, maybe I could be on spring watch. Then again I haven't got a beard or the personality. Drat. (Richard Roebuck)

This Evening I took another trip upto the dew pond at Wild Park for a view of Purple Hairstreak, like yesterday I saw two at once, however this time in the corner of my eye I thought I saw a third. I replaced my camera with binoculars and managed to get a reasonable focus on a male basking in the oak canopy. There was also singles of Large Skipper, Red Admiral, Ringlet and Comma in this area. Then on the way back home on a path basking I saw a single Small Tortoiseshell at the edge of Ditchling Crescent. On Wednesday 2 July: I went to Park Corner Heath / Rowland Wood Reserve during a visit with a friend who lives in East Hoathly. For anyone who can't drive I took the 29 and 54 bus services to get there from Brighton. I saw 1 Red Admiral, 1 Comma, 7 Ringlet, 15 Meadow Brown, 3 Large Skipper and 6 Silver-washed Fritillary, finding them far more approachable just after 5pm. Of note, earlier on the walk to the reserve me and my friend saw 7 Small Tortoiseshell feeding on and flying around creeping thistle found at the edge of a cultivated field. Seen within this square (TQ527150). I somehow missed sending this in, on Saturday 28 June: Me and my family visited Arundel, we had a walk around Swanbourne Lake, seeing 1 Marbled White, 2 Ringlet, 1 Meadow Brown and a single Small Skipper all within (TQ014083). (Jamie Burston)

News for Tuesday 1 July: I have sprained my wrist so can't garden at the moment but the silver lining is that I can walk on the downs. While walking from Friston Pond to Eastbourne I thought I'd died and gone to heaven just east of Birling Gap. Just in from the cliff edges where there is low scrub the flowers were fantastic and I saw lots of Dark Green Fritillaries between there and Belle Tout, I didn't count them but maybe 80-100. There was quite a breeze and the butterflies kept low down and hardly ever settled but I did find one stationary one with a damaged wing. I've never seen so many before. Also lots of Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns and Skippers. Cheered me up enormously. (Tessa Pawsey)

More news for Tuesday 1 July: Yesterday afternoon I saw a White Admiral in Hastings country park... I wasn't sure if you already had records of this species there? I also saw a couple of Commas, And some Small Tortoiseshells and Meadow Browns. (Helen Cradduck)

Two days 1-2 of July spent at Botany Bay produced 6 grounded emperors on the first of July and 4 on the 2nd. Also a pair of mating ringlets was spotted by an eagle-eyed observer.
Good evening action on the first of July but the Emperors refused to fly for us in the evening on Tuesday the second. (Trevor Rapley)

News for Saturday 28 June: On Saturday I led a walk at Iping and Stedham Commons to see Silver-studded Blues and Common Heaths. Paul, Peter and Anna joined me and we saw a dozen or so male and female SSBs, Common Heaths and Yellowhammers. A woodlark sang forcefully from the top of his trees. Paul gave us some insights into the flora and the memorable taste of Water Pepper. I was pleased to find a an Inlaid Grass-veneer and some fruiting lichens. On Sunday evening I visited Fairmile bottom to see roosting Marbled Whites. (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Wednesday 2 July 2014

A friend and I walked around Castle Hill nature reserve (TQ359 067) - we saw clouds and clouds of butterflies! Species seen were : Dark Green Fritillary, Marbled White, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Common Blue, Speckled Wood and one lone Large White. It was great to see so many Small Tortoiseshell on a single day compared to a few years ago when I saw one in the whole season. (Caroline Clarke)

Susie Millbankss stunning images of the Purple Emperor from Botany Bay on Monday 30th, inspired me to take my son Indi there today.
I have never seen this insect come down to the ground before and so was delighted when shortly after our arrival we saw one. There was a crowd of about eight people around the butterfly and as I tried to photograph the insect I just could not get it in focus and then the butterfly was gone, flying off before I even realised it had departed. No images for me but Indi got four photos! I was delighted.
Later a rather bedraggled butterfly entertained us by dining on horse poo. We spent quite a bit of time learning how to photograph a Purple Emperor (thanks to Mark Colvin for his advice and for the photos of us) and I got some chances to capture an image or two. Note how in one photo both hind wings have the exactly the same area removed by the vicious beak of a predator, no doubt attempting to have a stab at the eye spots that would have been seen in this part of the wing. A great evolutionary distraction technique.
So, no stunning photos from us but we did have a lot of fun holding court with some Emperors and anyway there's always another day to look forward to. (Dan Danahar)

This photo, sent in by Sally Milne, shows the striking pupae of the Magpie Moth which was found in her Southwick garden.


Tuesday 1 July 2014

Today I made a visit to Hollingbury Park, I managed to see 1 Holly Blue, 1 Painted Lady, 2 Speckled Wood, 7 Meadow Brown, 1 Red Admiral, 2 Small White and 1 Large White. I also saw two different large orange Butterflies, however these were both seen at distance and flying, based on what I've seen here already these could potential be Comma or Silver-washed Fritillary. The main target species was also showing in numbers. I saw four White-letter Hairstreak at the usual hot-spot (TQ31440735), seeing my first one down on Creeping Thistle at 11:10am. I had the pleasure of sharing my local knowledge amongst great company, trying to help three fellow enthusiasts get close up views. If I remember correctly, visiting from Storrington, Peacehaven and London. It was great to have views of dog-fighting behaviour, something I largely missed last year. They mainly perched on a smaller tree within the bay, this was between seeing them visit both Bramble and Creeping Thistle equally. I wanted to do a larger search of Hollingbury Park to assess current numbers, upon searching the glade behind the tennis courts I found a further two, these flying around two separate Ash trees (TQ31470721 and TQ31460717). Noting an absence towards the northern end of the park.
I then moved onto Woodbourne Meadow which has only recently be officially given this name, as previously referred to as Woodbourne garage field. Here I saw the following, 5 Marbled White, 6 Meadow Brown, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and two skippers of which I had the delight in identifying one of the two as my first Essex Skipper. Believing I had left White-letter Hairstreak behind at Hollingbury Park, I soon found myself to be wrong, each year I've searched my local road side Elms, this time something told me to try again, I looked up and waited at Carden Hill (Road). I was astonished to see one (TQ31560813), then I moved onto another Elm, I saw another one (TQ31580821), and another one further on at (TQ31580832). Looking at a further six trees resulted in the case going cold. I then came into my road, Crabtree Avenue, I checked the only Elm located on my road (TQ31550843), waiting for 15 minutes before seeing one! After getting home I then went back out to show my parents and we saw the same individual again. Whilst out I saw 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 3 Meadow Brown and I was surprised to see a single Marbled White all visiting are road.
Later in the evening I went out to check on the Purple Hairstreak colony at the dew pond, Wild Park, as like I've done practically every evening in June. I managed to see the following around this area, 7 Marbled White, 6 Meadow Brown, 1 Red Admiral, and four Skippers, most likely Small. I then caught a glimpse of a Purple Hairstreak flying a short distance in the main Oak canopy. I then saw this one joined by another as they flew out of the tree! my first two of the year, marking the start to their flight period, my favourite species. I then moved upto Hollingbury Hill Fort, continuing with sightings I managed to see 2 Dark Green Fritillary, 7 Meadow Brown, 2 Ringlet, 20+ Skippers, including definite Small Skippers and around 13 Marbled White of which I managed to find one already roosting. Eventually leaving at 8:02pm, just at the time I saw two Ringlet at the edge of Ditchling Road. This is by far the best and most productive day of the year so far. (Jamie Burston)

Well summer has definitely arrived in East Sussex. Today Barnes Wood was at its paradisal best, neither too hot nor too cold and with a gentle breeze too cool the weary wanderer. I saw seven Silver-washed Fritillaries, two White Admirals, Innumerable Meadow Browns a couple of Small Tortoiseshells, a Red Admiral and a Large Skipper. Hoping this lasts. (Jim Barrett)

I spent about 2 hours walking around the gallops above Butchershole this afternoon. This site saw an explosion of Chalkhill Blue numbers in 2012 and 2013, so I was interested to see if any had emerged yet. The answer is... yes... but only a few. I saw 4 in total, all near the entrance to the gallops just above the car park. However there were very good numbers of Marbled White, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Small Heath, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper. Also, one female Dark Green Fritillary hunkering down in the grass. (Andy Wilson)

On the 29th June, my son Indiana and I travelled to a location near to Southwater Wood, West Sussex and looked for Purple Emperors within the canopies of Oaks bordering arable fields. We had limited success but did see some individuals partaking in aerial dogfights. However, the insects only became active when there was sunshine and so much neck ache was had for only 6 or 7 sightings. Although Neil Hulme had said that there had been some Purple Emperors on the ground at Botany bay that day, such a journey was in the opposite direction to home and so Indi and I traveled back via Cissbury Ring. We did so because we were particularly keen to see some Dark Green Fritillaries. We located the highest concentration of these animals at the southern most side of the ring, were it was warmest. Here the concentration was really quite high but again our timing was off because it was still quite warm and the butterflies settled rarely.
Not to be put off we travelled to Horseshoe plantation nr Burling Gap on the 30th June. This time we were at the site by 10.00 but the insects were still quite active although low in abundance, I spent a good 40 mins chasing the odd fritillary trying to get a good photograph of the beastie, I guess its early in the season yet. (Dan Danahar)

News for last week: On Thursday afternoon I visited Houghton Forest and found Ringlets, Speckled Woods, a Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) ab. remutata, a Fungus Weevil and a Peacock larva. As I was returning to the car park I heard a Turtle Dove calling at 4:30pm. I entered the woods in search of it and came to a glade where a Tawny Owl flew from one tree to an adjacent one and posed for photos - what a great way to end a walk! (Colin Knight www.seapic.com)


Earlier Sightings

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